Judge Deborah A Batts, of Manhattan may be the first in a revival of a once-popular trend: reading. In short, she sent Swedish writer Fredrik Colting packing. While I haven’t read Mr Colting’s book (and don’t plan to), I am elated that a judge took the time and effort to evaluate, from a literary craftsmanship standpoint, the work in question.
In this repugnant era of ‘me too!’ and ‘everyone’s a winner!’ — where the James Frey’s of the world can hire a publicist, cause a fake scandal, repent and then promptly launch his next title under just-as-cheesey PR taglines, all to avoid scrutiny of the work and to propel sales based on hype — where lip-synching is now the norm in performance –where pop music, television and mainstream film is for the brain-dead — thank God someone in authority has had the temerity to not only carefully consider, but document and demonstrate the process of consideration for great literary work.
‘There’s nothing new’ is the phrase I hear bantered about festivals and bookshops, theatres and conferences. Sure there is: take the time to find it. But beware, Mr Colting and others like him are not new. They come from the land of sequel damnation — where a machine powered by formula rules the uneducated peasants. They claim to innovate, interpret, re-think — in place of actually thinking. And with titles such as ’60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye’ – and the oh-so-highly-innovative pen name ‘JD California’ — things couldn’t be more thinly veiled.
Mr Colting’s work may indeed contain interesting arguments or passages, ideas or assertions, but JD Salinger does not need help. Colting is now going down the “I didn’t think America banned books” road. He didn’t think. America did not ban a book, it took a long-needed step in the right direction for the creative arts.
“It is hardly parodic to repeat that same exercise in contrast, just because society and the characters have aged.” —Judge Batts
This is going to be a big one…
further reading from the NY Times: