January 24, 2021
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Nick Hornby: On Cultural Snobbery

Paul Broks talks fiction, football and cultural value with the godfather of lad-lit, Nick Hornby:

There was some figuring out on the faces of passers-by as they sampled the conversation (“Jeffrey Archer? Well, he’s a can of Coke”). I confessed from the start that I don’t read many novels—just two this year, so far. The truth is I don’t finish many. I’ll give a book 50 pages or a hundred if it’s one I feel I really should have a crack at, a Booker winner, say, or a Philip Roth. But mostly I’m disappointed and mostly it’s contemporary literary fiction that disappoints. Here’s something else from The Complete Polysyllabic Spree: “I would never dissuade anyone from reading a book, but please, if you’re reading a book that’s killing you, put it down and read something else, just as you would reach for the remote if you weren’t enjoying a TV programme.”

“You don’t have much truck with literary fiction, either, do you?” I say. No, he doesn’t. “It’s a very good way of marginalising writing.”

..“So, if Jeffrey Archer’s a can of Coke,” I say, “What does that make Ian McEwan? Something on the wine list presumably.”

“Yes. But if you’re thirsty you don’t want a bottle of Château Lafite.”

...The distinction between “high” and “low” culture, he thinks, is unsustainable. And more than anything he despises the cultural snobbery that seeks to sustain it—still all too prevalent in “this bloody country” (a phrase used in both the new novel and the film). If taste is about the appreciation of depth and complexity (the Château Lafite, the McEwan) that’s fine, but if it also means to disdain more primitive pleasures (the Coke, the Archer) it’s a retreat to a stifling elitism.

Read: Nick Hornby: the Prospect interview

Nick Hornby: On Cultural Snobbery
outlookindia.com
1970-01-01T05:30:00+0530

Paul Broks talks fiction, football and cultural value with the godfather of lad-lit, Nick Hornby:

There was some figuring out on the faces of passers-by as they sampled the conversation (“Jeffrey Archer? Well, he’s a can of Coke”). I confessed from the start that I don’t read many novels—just two this year, so far. The truth is I don’t finish many. I’ll give a book 50 pages or a hundred if it’s one I feel I really should have a crack at, a Booker winner, say, or a Philip Roth. But mostly I’m disappointed and mostly it’s contemporary literary fiction that disappoints. Here’s something else from The Complete Polysyllabic Spree: “I would never dissuade anyone from reading a book, but please, if you’re reading a book that’s killing you, put it down and read something else, just as you would reach for the remote if you weren’t enjoying a TV programme.”

“You don’t have much truck with literary fiction, either, do you?” I say. No, he doesn’t. “It’s a very good way of marginalising writing.”

..“So, if Jeffrey Archer’s a can of Coke,” I say, “What does that make Ian McEwan? Something on the wine list presumably.”

“Yes. But if you’re thirsty you don’t want a bottle of Château Lafite.”

...The distinction between “high” and “low” culture, he thinks, is unsustainable. And more than anything he despises the cultural snobbery that seeks to sustain it—still all too prevalent in “this bloody country” (a phrase used in both the new novel and the film). If taste is about the appreciation of depth and complexity (the Château Lafite, the McEwan) that’s fine, but if it also means to disdain more primitive pleasures (the Coke, the Archer) it’s a retreat to a stifling elitism.

Read: Nick Hornby: the Prospect interview

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