Two kinds of writers

Ladies & gents, Robert McCrum is on a roll:

[T]here are two kinds of writer at work in the English-speaking world today. First, there is the ‘writer’, who enjoys wide media coverage and is an expert manipulator of soundbite culture. The ‘writer’ has virtually no readership and keeps him or herself in play by the constant massaging of the literary media.

Then there is that almost-forgotten figure: the writer, who stays at home, keeps regular hours, does the work, accumulates a readership and is virtually invisible.

As the Croatian critic Dubravka Ugresic has observed in her important collection of essays, Thank You For Not Reading (Dalkey Archive Press), the former is usually ‘a second-rate talent’ whose sole ambition is to become ‘an unavoidable literary reference’.

The latter is the author of a book you and I might actually want to read.


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