This made my day yesterday. German literary critic Dennis Scheck interviews George R.R. Martin. Watch out for Martin talking about readers complaining about sex scenes, but not about graphic violence.
Dennis Scheck also points out that A Song of Ice and Fire is twice as long in German, namely ten books to date rather than five. The reason is that an English text translated into German tends to be approx. 20 percent longer than the original. This isn’t much of a problem with short stories, but can quickly add up with Martin sized doorstoppers. Hence it is common practice for German publishers to split very big fantasy novels in two for translation. Robert Jordan’s/Brandon Sanderson’s Wheel of Time cycle, already a monster of a series in English, is twice as monstrous in German.
Are those by any chance figurines of the characters in the background? In that case, me want. Some of them at any rate. I wouldn’t want Joffrey, Theon Greyjoy, Littlefinger or Gregor Clegane in any form.
Dennis Scheck is the only one of our major literary critics who’s genre friendly and who sometimes plugs genre novels (e.g. Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind). But I still wonder how he managed to persuade the TV station to broadcast a ten minute interview with a fantasy writer. It’s not even that they’re trying to plug the Game of Thrones TV show, since that airs on a different channel. Still, a great interview and it made up for the fact that the other interview in the show was with an incredibly unlikable woman whose novel is nominated for the German book award. She’ll probably win, too, cause it’s exactly the sort of book that always wins.
Dennis Scheck’s comments on the top ten books on the German bestseller list were about the non-fiction list this month, so we did not get to hear his caustic comments about Fifty Shades of Grey. Though his comments on the top ten non-fiction bestsellers are still well worth watching, particularly for the way he calls a memoir about pregnancy and childbirth “a literary abortion”. Honestly, even the grouchiest British and American critics have nothing on German literary critics with regard to caustic comments.
Nonetheless, Fifty Shades of Grey is the book and subject that refuses to die. Now The Opionated Geeks wonder whether Fifty Shades of Grey is destroying publishing. I doubt that it’s going to destroy publishing, particularly not considering that the trilogy is selling extremely well. But it may well harm the romance genre and plunge it back into a world of controlling alpha heroines and virginal doormats that we hoped the genre had left behind with the “bodiceripper” era.
On a related note, The All About Romance blog has a post on the Cinderella fantasy, i.e. a rich hero paired with an average or downright poor heroine, and wonders why this fantasy is so enduring. I’ve already explained at length why the Cinderella fantasy doesn’t work for me in this post. Still, it seems to work for a lot of other people.
Finally, the Emmy Awards have been given out last night. Lots of love for Homeland as well as a miniseries about Sarah Palin and one about two feuding families in the 19th century West, none of which I have seen or have any desire to see. No love for Girls, the HBO show that seems to be the current critical darling of pop cultural commentary, and not a whole lot of love for Downton Abbey (about time) and Mad Men. Meanwhile, my personal favourites, namely the nominations for Luther, Sherlock, Game of Thrones and Harry’s Law, did not win. But then, I’ve known for a long time that Emmy voters have very different ideas of good TV than I do.
Though judging by the wins for Homeland and that Sarah Palin miniseries (and Breaking Bad, too, though I hate that show), the US finally seems to have overcome the nostalgia obsession that marked last year’s Emmys and Oscars.