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Friday, November 09, 2007

Book TV - A good idea that never was

All books are not written, published or publicized equally, and that's the way it should be. Some books deserve to be lauded more than others, especially if "others" tend to be not well-written or well-plotted. Still, readers have different criteria of what they look for in a book that makes it worth their time. Unfortunately, the producers of C-Span's Book TV don't seem to care about what the majority of readers really want to read about, hear about, analyze or glom.

It seems I'm not the only one who feels that BookTV has missed an opportunity to promote good literature. As the Guardian notes, most of the show's scheduling consists of "a single camera pointed at an author talking and reading in a shop, which is then broadcast unedited, after which another single camera will be pointed at another author talking and reading in a shop, which will then be broadcast unedited, and so on and so on for about 48 hours." And most of the readings consist of mind-boggingly boring "tomes about history and politics."

Not that historical tomes and political non-fiction aren't worthy of a slot, but that seems to be the total focus of the entire channel. Yes, there is an audience for Ayesha Siddiqa's Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy, but there is also an audience for Walter Mosley's Cinnamon Kiss or Philip Roth's Everyman. But given the short shrift works of fiction receive on the channel, it can be presumed that the producers don't deem works of fiction worthy of a half-hour discussion, even by lauded authors. And, of course, genre fiction is totally verboten, lest the producers risk the indictment of being promoters of lowly commercial works (although a few years ago, I did happen to catch a reading by fiction author David Balducci whose anecdotes provided an atypical entertaining BookTV show).

Don't get me wrong - the idea of a channel dedicated totally to books is a good one -had it been done right. However, the way the show is currently produced is nothing more than a stultifying missed opportunity. The producers might have pushed aside their literary prejudices and actually broadcast shows that are stimulating and entertaining. They could have introduced new fiction writers to the reading audience, provided challenging roundtables on great literary works, introduced children to the joys of reading. Instead, we get a showcase of Robert Patterson's War Crimes: The Left's Campaign to Destroy Our Military and Lose the War on Terror - although one can argue that this IS a work of fiction, and probably a highly entertaining read.

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Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 11/09/2007 04:24:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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