Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nicholas Coleridge: Distressed by his dangler and a 33% over-write

Yet another Nicholas Coleridge novel due in the US of A!

Pride and Avarice - out Feb 2 - consolidates the annexation of lucrative Jilly Cooper territory (her next 600-pager's out in October). Distressingly, and as I write, the .co.uk arm of Amazon has no plot details of his latest 496-page epic which first came out as Deadly Sins in the UK last year: set in the OK Corral of, er, Hampshire. So I am forced to visit the .com arm and learn more, courtesy of a Publishers' Weekly's review synopsis reprinted there. "While funny and smartly conceived, [it] could stand to lose a good 150 pages," it sniffs between attempts at enthusiasm for his novel.

"As the narrative progresses, the ever-increasing chains of coincidences and shifts of allegiance begin to feel like a piling-on. Sometimes less is more."

Oh dear. That's about 33% of the wordage adjudged superfluous to requirement. Put another way, if the book's about 200,000 words, about 66,666 of them could go. Put another way, if he produced 2,000 novel words per weekend (as he told the Indy once) at least 33 weekends were a waste of writing time. Makes you think.

In any case, the Publishers' Weekly review is an odd item to plonk on your online sales stall. And the Cooperland genre - which put the mittel into the england of shires bonkerama - requires a fat wad of book for its 50-something bottled blonde-in-pipe-jeans audience. What to do?

Coleridge (a sensitive Pisces), the much-adored Managing Director of Condé Nast in Britain - with Vogue, Tatler, Vanity Fair etc ever eager to help push book sales as disinterested fiction lovers  - may also be left unamused by the misleading claim of Macmillan's PR puff for Pride and Avarice: "Hailed by The New Yorker as 'wickedly enjoyable', Nicholas Coleridge's newest novel is..."

Anyone would think the Condé Nast magazine found Pride and Avarice "wickedly enjoyable" and that it had got hold of a very early review copy. But the ringing praise was actually for Coleridge's earlier novel Godchildren. I'm sure this can't be a deliberate misrepresentation. I would refer Macmillan staff to the perils of dangling participles and misplaced modifiers and how to avoid them. Still, nearly 200 other online media have happily cut 'n' pasted the slip-up, so there's a comfort.

I would also question the use of "newest novel" - does this mean his old novels are permanently new? As in, "Have you read my new novel which was published 10 years ago?" But I'll let that pass. Wouldn't want to be called pedantic.

Here's an excerpt from his newest novel - tell me what you think.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please be pedantic, Madame! Someone's got to be around this sort of tosh.

Anonymous said...

His novel starts dreadfully. Is there a new rule in commercial fiction that you must be as dull as possible?

Former Publishing News staffer said...

Coleridge's stuff is not taken that seriously by booksellers, he's division 3. Not in Cooper's league at all, but his profile is a dream for a publisher.

The late Tolstoy said...

Couldn't get through the first paragraph but I admire Nick for having the energy to write this drivel - how the hell does he manage to fit this slop in??

Anonymous said...

His last novel started with the name of his central character as does his latest. Aspiring writers please note.

Anonymous said...

The novel reads like someone's CV, a list of details and some smart description. probably writes in his sleep.

Anonymous said...

I've actually read the book, MA, and liked it a lot. Can't think why you are always so obsessed with Nicholas Coleridge anyway.

Madame Arcati said...

Mr C is an interest of mine, one of a great many as my 4 year-old blog testifies. Epochs may pass before Mr C gets another dose of creative Arcatisation.

If you've read his novel already then you're either one of his editors or a friend - so may I suggest your literary judgement is probably compromised?

But Coleridge is always competent and smart: I'm sure his "newest novel" will please his fans, even if his bon bon fiction leaves me needing mental root canal.

Anonymous said...

It's staggering anyone would buy this crap. If the book had been produced by a vanity press, people would be quick to point out its many defects, if they bothered to look at it at all. But because it's released under a respected imprint, we're all meant to treat it as a respectable fiction. Fuck off!

Anonymous said...

What a sour old bitch you are. I'll cut your dangling participle off if you don't behave.

Anonymous said...

Way off topic but I think this deserves attention. Fast forward to 37:00 for a real hoot.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00qcps3/This_Week_28_01_2010/

Alastair said...

Is this a sequel to his Deadly Sins novel ? It is nice to hear about Mr Coleridge again. Maybe Nicholas Coleridge and Julian Fellowes should join forces to write a novel about the British and European aristocracy or the history of Ttatler magazine X

Anonymous said...

The reader up NC's arse should reread Madame's piece. She disses his publisher rather than the book. Obviously Macmillan are not treating the book seriously if they can't beothered to put up a plot description.

Blithe Spirit said...

I think J.K. Rowling proved that prose with excess fat and gruelingly slow narrative will hardly be indicative of the failure of a novel. The same about story starts or drivel; if I hadn’t been reading the story for my niece I would have put down the first volume down before reaching the second chapter and never find out about Voldemort; the first three chapters are sheer torture. She made it obvious someone can have no writing skills and still have the talent to wrap a whole generation in a story. She worked A LOT at making the characters three-dimensional, I’ll give her that.

It is to be seen if Mr. C’s newest-est novel has as much structure as a story like Harry Potter, enough to make readers empathize with some of the situations and be willing to put up with the drivel. Is the dreadful title of the novel an indication of how uninspired the story must be? I can’t be bothered to read the excerpt; not right now.

Anyone is welcome to call me pedantic; I’m a “sticks and stones …” kind of gal.

MA darling, why do I feel Tom Wolfe should be one of the labels in this story?
ox

oh! I love it when the verification word is "related": fattiest. LOL

Madame Arcati said...

Fear not, Blithe, you'll find no Voldemort in an NC novel. Just Sunday supp profile caricatures of rich people.

Anonymous said...

Madame, "Pride And Avarice" seems to be the US title of "Deadly Sins", which Amazon.co.uk tells me was published last April in the UK.

(A regular) xxx

Madame Arcati said...

Yes. It's taken quite a time for anyone to notice.