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May 15, 2005


David Thayer

I was so surprised when I reached the bottom of the roll that I forgot what I was going to say. The LBC is more interesting than any novel that could've been chosen, which is not meant as a slight to Kate Atkinson. She's in the awkward position of being the first; all alone in a football helmet orbiting the earth. The shot at Little, Brown was silly. None of us get to choose our parents. They publish Pelecanos, Denise Mina in the US, Martha Cooley to name a few. Not a bad list.


David, where is there a shot taken at Little, Brown?


The LBC shouldn't be prejudging the books by their covers, authors, genres, or publishers. If everyone read the books with all those specifics hidden and then a majority voted that this was the best book of the batch, the one that they would recommened to their friends, would that make it OK with all of you? Could it be that "successful", award-winning, or well-known authors are defined that way for a reason? Could they actually be writing better books? I didn't get the impression that the LBC was only supposed to be considering books that no one had heard of. I'm always happy to find another friend to talk books with and give me some more titles to put on my must read list, and with LBC I think I've found a whole bunch. I can't wait to read CASE HISTORIES and I'm anxious to hear about all the other nominated books.


Nobody has anything against successful, award-winning, well-known authors, Nancy. This is about the LBC's self-imposed criteria. They're right at the top of this page, in the co-op's own words. Scroll up and have a look. "The best of contemporary fiction, authors, and presses that are struggling to be noticed in a flooded marketplace." This sentiment has been echoed and amplified upon elsewehre by individual members of the group. The Rawlsian scenario you describe would be a wonderful way to select books if the goal had been simply to select "the best book."


To Nancy:

"I didn't get the impression that the LBC was only supposed to be considering books that no one had heard of."

"No one" is certainly an exaggeration. But how can those who also believed as I did be so wrong and you be so right? How can there be such a polar divide, Nancy?

Can anyone explain it?

Again, I don't get it.

Regardless, this has been belabored enough in my book.

C'est la vie, such is the way of the world, some quote from MacBeth, etc.



I'm trying to say that, if there is a fault, it doesn't belong to the LBC as a whole for choosing this book, but just with the person who nominated it in the first place. The final pick should be the best book of those nominated. If the LBC eventually lays down some very specific criteria to use for nomination, then so be it, but if the nominators are just on the honor system for picking a book that fits the stated goals of the LBC I don't think that the voters can second guess the nomination itself. (As in, I liked this book best, but I won't vote for it because I think it's gotten enough attention already.)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

"But how can those who also believed as I did be so wrong and you be so right? How can there be such a polar divide..."

Ever hear of Democrats and Republicans?


Here's the right Macbeth for you:

I am in blood
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er.


at the risk of beating a dead horse, i agree that the choice was entirely wrong. i was looking forward to what lbc was going to pick. my opinion has nothing to do with quality of writing and it has nothing to do with this book being the first one chosen. it was a bad choice, period. never should have been considered. the mission (as stated) wasnt about picking personal pet favorites. the mission was clear and the choice had nothing to do with the mission. i cant give up on the idea quite yet and will see what is next. but this first choice makes lbc part of the problem that it had (as of yet) the pretentiousness to claim it was going to attack. truly underappreciated writers everywhere are weeping at this selection. oh well. please do better next time. you owe it to everyone you lured to your site in the first place.


Oh for the love of crap, can't we just move on and talk about the book?


And let's talk about this author, too, because there's an unfortunate denigrating of Atkinson that's come along with all this hoopla. Let's look at someone who is, in fact, very experimental and original on the page. Someone not at all mainstream in her writing. Someone who can put together old tale with new forms of altered chronology, who can mix history with future tense in her work, who uses both a hard-headed realism and an odd otherworldiness, all as she did in _Human Croquet_. Consider that this is a book that ends with a poem by an anonymous poet and then an explanation of the game of human croquet (complete with a graphic to finish off the book), which figures into the story in retrospect but altogether indirectly. Not your garden variety "corporate" author. There's that buzz of finding something new and daring that comes anytime I've read this writer's work. Atkinson is an author who rewards readers precisely because she isn't easy, but this is just the kind of writer we keep hearing that publishing companies don't have faith in publishing, because readers supposedly won't meet those books halfway. Others here have already commented on the worths of _Behind the Scenes_, and I'd second those who've relished that book and its wit. While I haven't yet read _Case Histories_, I certainly will now. What I really like best about the LBC choice is that this is a writer I'd read (and so "knew") and loved but lost track of somehow. It was like a bonk on the head to say, "Read her," and I'm heeding it, because she's someone I think literary readers _should_ be reading and watching and listening to, because this is a writer whose words matter and who knows how to get to the heart of the world in the most wonderful of ways--sometimes with a direct cut through the dry landscape, sometimes a circuitous meander through the forest, but always, always worth the adventure.

Rita Shapiro

i agree, its a worthy book.

and your program is working. i picked up my copy from where it was gathering dust on tuesday.

but i should mention the one i have says its in its third printing.


Jesus, Dan, I'm not trying to pick fights with individuals like you and Mark whose blogs I read religiously. Heck, I'm a big fan. I'm just agreeing with Chris, and I'm real glad he made his point. And it's all to the good of LBC that it has turned into this Great Debate Site, isn't it? Now you know there's a bunch of us out there who care as much as you do about those books "struggling to be noticed in a flooded marketplace." You should feel happy that we are interested enough in your doings to be prepared to hold your feet to the fire. Even if it makes some of you squeal like offended head mistresses.


I'm happy to read CASE HISTORIES (I had sort of forgotten about it, thanks to the, er, "flooded marketplace"); I enjoyed BEHIND THE SCENES quite a bit, and I also like mysteries, so hey, good.

On the other hand, I think Michael's point about how it got onto the list o' five books in the first place is quite good. Perhaps this kerfuffle will help clear up qualifications for nominating a book? Of course, that's up to those of you who organized the LBC, but procedural geekiness has its uses if one (or twenty) wants to head off a certain sort of criticism based on interpretation of the mission statement.

I'm looking forward not only to reading minority opinions but to finding out more about the other four nominees as I read CASE HISTORIES.

Chris, are you planning to read the book?

Anne Marie

Kate Atkinson's work is hardly struggling to be noticed.


well, i'm with chris on this subject. lbc defensiveness doesn't help. who am i to say, but perhaps the selection process/criteria needs to be looked at? i mean folks, you're not recommending a book that needs your help. aren't there "good" books out there "somewhere" that are? and don't ask me which or where. i thought you were supposed to tell me, and with this selection you told me nothing.


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I'll have to give Case Histories a read. It sounds really interesting.


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