Book Review: ‘NB by J.C.,’ by James Campbell

Editors have been as soon as lionized for issuing banned books (“Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” “Ulysses,” “Lolita”). In these instances, he wrote, “an editor is in danger of being sacked for publishing something that doesn’t fit someone else’s definition of ‘appropriate.’”

He defended what’s develop into generally known as cultural appropriation, in each route. (“If the art is good, it justifies its own creation. If bad, it predicts its own oblivion.”)

He was no particular fan of Margaret Thatcher, however he was weary of listening to her tenure as prime minister damned in hyperbolic phrases. When Joyce Carol Oates, reviewing a memoir by Jeanette Winterson in The New York Review of Books, described Winterson as “a fierce and eloquent supporter of the literary arts, having lived through Thatcher’s England as a university student at Oxford,” Campbell was moved to answer:

Is that Thatcher’s England wherein tanks rolled on to campuses, troopers rounded up the intelligentsia and bonfires have been made out of books beloved by Jeanette Winterson? Or Thatcher’s England the place a working-class woman from Accrington may go to Oxford and obtain not only a free training however a beneficiant upkeep as effectively?

He printed Elmore Leonard’s now-famous 10 rules for writing fiction (“Never open a book with the weather,” “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip”) and tore them aside. He famous that, in practically each case, every could possibly be changed with its reverse. “Our rule for the cultivation of good writing is much simpler,” he wrote. “Stay in, read and don’t limit yourself to American crime fiction.”

Campbell wrote about writers who fake to not learn their critiques, and biographers who hate their topics. He wrote about pop lyrics derived from traditional literature. He took notice of mentions of the TLS in literature. (He missed considered one of my favorites, from a biography of Angela Carter. She described the vibe within the critic Lorna Sage’s home as “tea bags, Tampax and the TLS.”) There are animadversions towards literary back-scratching. Campbell sought to tell apart the sham from the real.

He was interested by every thing. When he wanted materials for a column, he would generally stroll to a bookstore, purchase one thing uncommon and write about its contents. He made it work.

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