There was an interesting question raised by one of Jessica Faust's readers, and she added to it and opened it up for discussion on her blog on Wednesday. Here all the questions, in a nutshell:
Reader: What effect, if any, do you think the election will have on the publishing industry? Specifically, I was wondering if some of the 'boundaries' might be expanded with the advent of a more liberal administration. Jessica: What effect, if any, do you think the election will have on you as a reader?
The discussion following is an interesting read. What wasn't often mentioned is that we are all products of our times. I'll take that aspect of the question.
Maybe I'm biased, because when I studied music history, it was always done in the context of the political, military, social, and cultural period. I'm thinking art history is treated the same way. My German literature classes were also taught in this way, but I didn't take any English lit classes, aside from Shakespeare.
The fact that Beethoven dedicated the Eroica Symphony to Napoleon and later scratched his name out is a definite reflection of his times.
Would this thriller have been written without a Bush presidency? Would this book have been written without abolitionism?
Not every book is going to reflect the life and times in a big political way. Entertainment often plays off each other. Just think of Bridget Jones' Diary, Sex and City, and the chick lit phenomenon. Would Stephanie Plum have taken off without the foundation? Sookie Stackhouse?
Pop culture is culture, too.
My point is that we are all partly products of our times and environment. What we see on TV, what we see at the movie theater, the plays we see, the museums we visit, the politics of the day, the economy of the time.
And yes, sure, the president. (Particularly with the sort of dictatorial presidency Bush ran. Hopefully with the presidency of "change" that Obama has promised.)
More importantly, even if we hole up in our little worlds as writers are wont to do, our readers are reading the books on the front tables, are going to movies in the theaters, and watching prime time TV.
They are dealing with foreclosures. Someone close to them has likely lost their job. Readers had passionate feelings about
I'm not advocating trying to write "to" a sort of group conscious mind or anything.
I just think it's okay to be a product of our time, to allow society and pop culture and politics into our mind, to let them settle into our subconscious.
I'm not sure we can even recognize how our history and culture today will influence our writing. Maybe the perspective of centuries will recognize the common themes of the day.
Art is a reflection of its times, part of the history recorded for the ages. Even if it is "just" a fantasy, a romance, or mystery, and not a big literary work aiming to say something "important."
No, I don't think readers are going to walk into the store and say to themselves, "Because Obama was elected, I'm going to choose this book over this book."
So, yes, I think the change of presidents will change the books people buy and the books people publish. I'll leave it to those who study history to recognize the trends, and those who predict trends to imagine exactly how it will influence the group mind of our day.
What do you think?
Today I am grateful for totally awesome blogging buddies who put up with and supported me during my dental meltdown!