Saturday, August 17, 2013

Weekend Kael Blogging

If I blogged this before, I apologize, but given the recent careers of Brian McGreevy and "Pittacus Lore," I thought this passage was worth revisiting.

Part of what has deranged American life in this past decade is the change in book publishing and in magazines and newspapers and in the movies as they have passed out of the control of those whose lives were bound up in them and into the control of conglomerates, financiers, and managers who treat them as ordinary commodities. This isn’t a reversible process; even if there were Supreme Court rulings that split some of these holdings from the conglomerates, the traditions that developed inside many of those businesses have been ruptured. And the continuity is gone. In earlier eras, when a writer made a book agreement with a publisher, he expected to be working with the people he signed up with; now those people may be replaced the next day, or the whole firm may be bought up and turned into a subdivision of a textbook-publishing house or a leisure-activities company. The new people in the job aren’t going to worry about guiding a writer slowly; they’re not going to think about the book after this one. They want best-sellers. Their job is to find them or manufacture them. And just as the studios have been hiring writers to work on novels, which the publishers, with the help of studio money, will then attempt to promote to best-sellerdom at the same time that they are being made into movies. The writer Avery Corman has suggested “the horrifying prospect of a novelist being fired from his own book.” It won’t horrify the people who are commissioning these new books—pre-novelizations.
"Why Are Movies So Bad? Or, The Numbers"
Pauline Kael  1980

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