March 6th, 2007

smile

Facelifting

Decades ago, I worked in a large chain bookstore. We used to put books anywhere we thought they might sell. Once we had a case of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, a mass market edition, that the orderer decided not to use. I filled a dump (cardboard marketing face out stand), hot pink, that just had the title "the best in Regency Romance!!!!!!!!" and put it in the romance section. Sold like hot cakes and we had great demand by readers saying they wanted more of this new writer. Head office finally asked why we were having this unusual hot demand for Jane Austen and began putting her in the romance section as well. Then I started recommending Tom Jones and Maria Edgeworth, Thackeray. Wouldn't work for Dickens. They had heard of Dickens and "knew" he was literature and hence not fun.
Richard Eney via petro_gulak

Of course I asked myself - what Russian books can be sold this way. Alas - aside of "A Hero of Our Time" written by Lermontov in 1840 and Gogol horror stories - I can't name a book that fit a modern reader. Dostoevsky and Tolstoy are both "literature" in its worst. Ostrovsky is great, but no one read drama today. Chekhov is infinitely boring. May be Leskov will do. But he is not of Lermontov class. And his style is too traditional as well...
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