Friday, December 08, 2006

Runs Screaming

Or maybe not.
But the landscape out here becomes more and more mysterious - and a little surreal.

Viz: a graphic by Eyvind Earle.

Just my first impression after reading on MediaBistro/Galleycat, December 5 entry, that a trend towards bibliographies in fiction has developed. And some HarperCollins EditorDude is fond of them.

I had trouble with the suckers every time - all that picky punctuation. All that colonic irritation.
Enough reason right there to switch to fiction.

On one hand I can see the appeal.
Bibliographies look so respectable.
The assurance of Research. Scholars.
A chance to show that writers of fiction are not mere dribblers or dabblers but have scoured the libraries of the Known World to construct their tales.
The propriety of sources, of the evidence of entrails. Revealed for examination by any passing proctologist.
Of course, such open acknowledgements might spoil the fun for literary analysts.
One cannot cleverly discern the influence of Proust ( pick your favourite) if the writer admits it from the get-go.
I wonder, idly, since the question of bibliographies for me is both map and moot at the present time, if the inclusion of a bibliography might also be a publisher's pre-empt against ubiquitous and expensive claims of plagiarism.
I think it would be more apt to invite it.
Two words: Dan Brown.
On the other hand, I wonder what will become of the story - you know, the novel itself - if this trend of addenda pages continues.
Already we have the excerpt page, 2-3 pages of ecstatic blurbs, a dedication, 1-2 pages of acknowledgements, an Author's Notes, 3-4 pages of advertisement lists for other novels, sometimes 5-10 pages of sample tease of the author's next book or that of another writer.
Wonder sometimes if we are faced with the Incredible Shrinking Novel.
Your thoughts?

BTW: Witty Bill Liversidge has listed Carla's blog as one of the best all-round litblogs. He even mentions moi.


Carla said...

Well done for getting onto Bill's list - 'Most Original' blog is a title to be savoured.

I quite like bibliographies in historical fiction because I always want to know what's history and what the author made up. A bibliography is one way of doing that (or an Author's Note), and a starting point if I want to find out more about the history/people/events etc. Couldn't speak for other forms of fiction, though.

December Quinn said...

You know I'm actually a sucker for that stuff, Bernita--I figure if I like the book, and the book's author liked a book, I'll like the book they liked. Usually.

I could do with less blurbage and ads, though.

Congrats on the spiffy mention!

Bernita said...

I was astonished, Carla. I certainly concur with his listing you, though.

I like them in historical fiction as well. Proof of probity for one - which I feel is a necessary ethic in historical fiction.

I just have a hysterical vision of some writer trying to annotate his/her research sources for a Cinderella reprise.

Always think of bibliographies as more objective than that, December.
It was very nice of Bill.

James Goodman said...

Congrats on the mention.

Ironically, i just had to shave about 4,5000 words (20 pages) from the book i have coming out early 2007. My publisher struck up some deal to produce "pocket books" that are exactly X pages long and he needed the extra pages from my book removed for advertising and excerpts for "coming soon" books.

Bernita said...

Rather sobering to see a specific example, James. Thank you.

As an editing note I saw somewhere, apparently many articles such as "a" and "the" can be removed without cost to the text.

Ric said...

Congrats on the shout-out!

I get really annoyed by the 'excerpts' from novels that aren't printed yet - Stephen King's 'preview' in Cell a case in point.
I generally like author's notes, and, of course, we writerly types mine the acknowledgements looking for agents and editors.
I do fail to see, with the exception for historical that you mentioned, the purpose of a bibliography in a work of fiction.
Other than to say, "You're going to have a hard time reading this because I cribbed most of it from this obscure, out of print diatribe by a hermaphrodite Latvian Monk."

Robyn said...

"colonic irritation"

God, I love you.

Kate Thornton said...

Congratulations on the mention - "Most Original" doesn't cover the half of it, though.

I have learned to avoid the pleasures of a beverage while reading you - "evidence of entrails" indeed!

I like bibliographies in their place, but I don't see fiction as that place - unless the bibliographies too are fiction...

AE Rought said...

It is a shame what's happened to the STORY. It seems the story itself is getting choked out, and all this pith and blather of portent, or pretense has been grafted in.

I guess that's one of the reason's I choose to go with Samhain, "It's all about the story..."

{Hi, btw. :) I know it's been a while, but I've been sewing my fingers off making Christmas gifts! And a teddy bear for a promo)

Bernita said...

Yes, Ric, author's notes are interesting and welcomed.
But other than a display or possible faux erudition, why a bibliography in normal fiction?

Bibliographies are so anal and I'm just not good with colons, Robyn.

Bernita said...

Kate, I was jaw-dropped and astounded! Don't know how many times I clicked back to read it over and over.
Now there's a subtle application. Fictional bibliographies. They've been used before to lend spurious authority to fiction masquerading as fact.
We should be prepared for some tongue-in-cheek.

Hi, Savannah. Drooled over that teddy bear.
Yes, indeed. Seems there is an uneasy trend towards making the novel just the vehicle and not the destination.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Woot! Congrats on making the list! A designation well earned. :-)

As for bibliographies... I shall go out on a limb, be honest, and say I don't care.

You may gasp now. *G*

Entertain me, tell me a good story, and it won't bother me in the least that ladies' garments in 12th century England did not employ metal hook-and-eye fasteners. If the story's good enough, I'll even accept Velcro. :-)

I know. I'm awful. LOL

spyscribbler said...

Hah! I love that, "colonic irritation!" Fictional bibliographies sound kinda ridiculous to me. Boy, am I behind the times!

I'm going to have to search for them today in Borders. Any clues to an example?

Sela Carsen said...

What a wonderful list, Bernita! So pleased that you're included!

Ric said...

Now, there's a concept. H.P. Lovecraft created whole worlds while referring to a mythical book, but what better way to entice your readers than having them go to the local library and ask for "The Origin of Teddy Bears and Other Tales of My Time Among The Teddies" by Bernita-Robyn Goodman?

See, it's Friday. Knew I could get sex in here somewhere....

Bernita said...

Thank you, Sonya.
A tiny thing compared to publication, I know. Nevertheless I feel vastly complimented by a notice from another blogger.

Er...what do anachronisms have to do with bibliographies?

Perhaps MediaBistro mentions some writers who have added them to their novels, Spy. Possibly more of a litfic thing.

Thank you, Sela.

Yes,Ric,Lovecraft's a good example, though as I remember, he did it within the text.
You suspicious of Goldilocks?

anna said...

way to go Bernita - well deserved!
You too Carla - congrats!
and congrats to James Goodman.
Such a bunch of smart people!!

as for colonic irritation haha!

I mostly just read the book
and the author's notes if they are fairly brief. as for the other stuff I never look at it so
don't much care one way or t'other

Bernita said...

Thank you, Anna.
I suspect many reader don't bother with the extras.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Err... nothing, now that you mention it! :-) Terriby sorry. Went off on the wrong tangent.

LOL Should have said, I agree that novels seem to be shrinking, and I'm not particularly historically inclined so the exclusion of bibliographies wouldn't bother me.

Bernita said...

Um..Sonya...never mind...

Bonnie Calhoun said...


All those extra non-story pages in a book drive me to distraction. LOL...sometimes I feel like ripping them all out!

Er, uh....*blush* I think I still have one that i did that too in a fit of "out of body participation"!

Candice Gilmer said...

You said it -- it is the incredibly shrinking novel....

I was reading just the other night, one of those books with excerpts, ads and blurbs in the back, and I finished the actual 'novel' (and I use that term loosely in this case), and put the bookmark in it and laid it down.

Husband looked at me and asked me if the tv was too loud, was that why I"d put down a book so close to the end.

I shook my head and said "that is the end."

His eyebrows went up, "So what's that other stuff?"

"Advertising," I told him.

Bernita said...

Eh, Bonnie, I do rip out those annoying cardboard inserts in the middle of a lot of paperbacks.

I know, Candice. These additional pages are not really that new, I suppose.I have 50 year-old hard covers with a few pages of book lists at the back - but...

Sela Carsen said...

I usually sort of enjoy the sort of tongue-in-cheek bibliography where the author says, "Look. It didn't happen this way. It happened that way. But that was boring, so I changed it. Deal."

Bernita said...

Do you mean biographies, Sela?

Sela Carsen said...

Nope. More in the vein of "historical notes," I suppose, than true bibliographies -- lists of research books.

I'm reading through Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and the book is rife with footnotes. They're half the fun of reading the book and often take up almost the whole page!

Bernita said...

Ah, I get you. Funny footnotes, not bibliographies.