On a friend’s recommendation, I’m reading Nick Hornby’s The Polysyllabic Spree. It’s a collection of essays about books and reading for Believer magazine. It does for books what his previous book, 31 Songs (released in North America as Songbook) did for music. I wrote about 31 Songs here and, in a small way, here.
Hornby writes about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon:
In an online interview, Haddon quotes one of his Amazon reviewers, someone who hated his novel, saying “the most worrying thing about the book is that Christopher says he dislikes fiction, and yet the whole book is fiction.” And that, says the author, “puts at least part of the problem in a nutshell.” It doesn’t, I don’t think, because the Amazon reviewer is too dim to put anything in a nutshell. I suspect, in fact, that the Amazon reviewer couldn’t put anything in the boot of his car, let a lone a nutshell…(Oh, man, I hate Amazon reviewers. Even the nice ones who say nice things. They’re bastards too.)
The rise of the Internet, and Amazon as such a huge player in the book marketplace, has made authors pretty uncomfortable. I’ve heard from more than one writer that they obsess over their Amazon sales rank which, frankly, is a mug’s game.
Regardless, The Polysyllabic Spree is like all of Hornby’s work–readable and amusing. Incidentally, the title plays on the name of a wacky, huge band called The Polyphonic Spree.