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November 19, 2004

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Laura

I know I should properly append my comments on Jennifer's list at the site, but I am lazy.

Anyway, as a participant -- and someone whose work was included here and there -- I think it's fair for me to bring up a conversation that Mark Billingham and I have had. In short: Are we friends because we like each other's work, or do we like each other's work because we're friends?

The thing is, I think it's right and proper for friendship to help define one's reading choices. There's so much to read, why not prioritize it by personal relationships? I read Simon's book, The Business of Dying, because I met him at Harrogate and spent time with him in Toronto. Sure, his two consecutive Barry nominations and his excellent reviews should have been enough to move him to the top of the TBR. But it was knowing Simon that led me to read him. And now there I am on his list, and he's on my list, and I can see how incestuous and log-rolly it could look.

That said, no friendship in the world can persuade me to praise a book I don't like. And yet . . . I find I do like books written by people I like. (And when I don't, I brood darkly and privately.)

John Rickards

There have certainly been books I've picked up because I'm friends with the author, yeah. I knew Simon before I read 'The Murder Exchange' (although I'd heard of it by then - I was just waiting for it to come out in pb 'cos I'm a raging cheapskate, and he'd already blurbed me, which is how I met him in the first place), one of Mark B's was in my TBR pile when I got to know him at BCon, so I picked up a copy of 'The Burning Girl' to read on the way home. The same with Barry Eisler, and a couple of others.

But there have been friends' books I haven't liked - none of the above, mind, all top stuff - but like Laura I wouldn't say anything about them. I'll happily pick little holes in books I like in a jokey kinda way, but if I don't like it, I'll just not talk about it if I can avoid it.

There are people I'm good enough friends with that I'll say what I think honestly, because I know they won't mind (much as my sister delights in constantly telling me what she hates about mine), but they're few.

On the other hand, if I say I think a book's cracking, it's not 'cos I'm sucking up, it's a genuine opinion.

And I'm quite happy to slag off the books of people I've never met. I'll just have to stick to my guns if we do and hope we get along anyway. :-)

Bryon

Is that why you never talk about LUNCHBOX HERO? There are quite a few people I've become friends with whose books either I havent read or didn't like, with the exception of John: I don't like him or his books. Most of the time though, the writers I end up befriending are authors I enjoy reading.

John Rickards

Well, I'd hardly call LUNCHBOX HERO a 'book'. It's more a random collection of barely-coherent words wiped onto reams of paper with all the mastery of a child learning to finger-paint for the first time.

Andi

Ahem, ahem, clear throat. Begin...What's all this about Sarah being on a panel about the Women's National Basketball Association? Aren't American female athletes good enough for that? Why, the women's team at the University of Connecticut alone has contributed six of the finest players in the WN....what? what does WNBA stand for here?

Oh. Oh, I see.

Um, well, er, never mind.

Andi (just call me Emily Litella) Shechter

James C. Hess

Keep it simple: If a work of literature is good, it will receive due praise. If it isn't, it won't.

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