There’s nothing particularly unusual about this quote from Nell Zink, an author. ‘Generally I hate all books, but I love Purity.’ And technically I don’t even have a problem with it- well, I think it’s snobby and bigoted, but I don’t know enough about the lady to judge. What I do have a problem with is the fact that that quote was being used in my local bookshop to market the novel Purity.
This post is really nothing to do with Nell Zink or Purity. I’m just pretty disgusted at the fact that apparently, ‘hating all books’ is seen as a badge of good judgement. There seems to be a star-struck attitude, these days, towards extreme cynicism- people shrivel in the face of it, particularly if it comes from someone with credentials. They assume that because someone criticises, that that person sees things that they don’t- that the critic is somehow more intelligent or knowledgeable or reliable than them.
And of course it’s important to be able to criticise. But blanket criticism of the ‘I hate all books’ type is really just as dumb as blanket praise, if not more so. At least loving something wholeheartedly takes bravery and self-possession. Would the quote have been used to market Purity if it had been ‘Generally I love all books, and I love Purity even more’? No, it would not. It’s fashionable to be ‘done’ with everything at the moment, you see. Enthusiasm makes people nervous. Perhaps they’re scared of being caught up in it- of revealing that, actually, there are things that excite and interest and inspire them.
As for the quote itself- really, lady? You really hate ‘all’ books? Sounds to me like you need to read a little more, huh? Then you might find a book that you actually like, unless you’re one of those perpetually ‘over it’ people who are terrified of enjoying anything.
Unless of course I’m mistaken, and the quote was somehow wrongly contextualised. Because hey, perhaps the bookshop in question simply misunderstood, and went on to use it as advertising anyway. But even so, wouldn’t that say something about us? It’s impressive, suddenly, to hate all books. (I’m bewildered. She hates Jane Eyre? Catch-22? Are you kidding me?) We’re supposed to buy into the idea that this woman is so proficient that she sees awful dreadful gaping flaws in everything she reads, and sees them so clearly that she is forced to hate the material. Yet somehow this book, Purity, has come along that, oh gosh, transcends even the clarity of her world-weary gaze.
Perhaps I’ll read Purity one day. Perhaps I won’t. But if I do, it’ll be on the strength of the first page, and not by way of buying into all the cynical crap that’s flying around. If I want to see my favourite things shat on, I’ll go to YouTube comment threads, thanks. What the hell kind of bookshop endorses the hating of books anyway?