Comments on Arthur B's J.K. Rowling's Naked Lunch

The Silkworm finds J.K. Rowling combining literary allusions with a gruesome imagination.

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Andy G at 15:41 on 2014-09-06
I also read this recently - I really enjoyed it and found the resolution in particular very satisfying and elegant.

Picking up the point about the trans character: I found both here and in The Cuckoo's Calling (with respect to black characters), the issue was a well-intentioned but slightly clunky portrayal that was very clearly from a cis/white perspective for cis/white readers. The way the minority characters describe their own minority is slightly strained and formal.
Arthur B at 15:58 on 2014-09-06
That's a good way to put it.
Sonia Mitchell at 00:45 on 2014-12-13
I've now managed to read this and also enjoyed it a lot.

I thought the portrayal of the self-published author was rather snide. The poor grammar of her blogs posts combined with a self-importance about her own writing (particularly using an extract from her own work to illustrate a literary technique) seemed to make her into a bit of a caricature. It felt a bit cruel when coming from a very successful author.

But overall it was definitely a good read. There was a great atmosphere of getting a glimpse into different worlds, and the cast of characters was a manageable size, with good distinctions between them all. I also liked that it committed to a definite time-frame rather than a woolly approximation of 'present day', and made a effort to drop in bits of news and weather. It made the story feel anchored in the moment.

The premise of the next novel doesn't sound all that compelling but I'll await your review with interest.
Arthur B at 13:48 on 2014-12-13
I think it was cruel if applied to self-publishing as a whole, but at the same time I don't think the caricature was too far removed from reality in the sense that there are some individuals out there that it rings true for, if you see what I mean. I think we are meant to twig that she's one of those self-published authors who are self-published for reasons of not quite being good enough, rather than self-published because they are writing in a market where self-publishing makes more economic sense than going through a publisher. (It's not as though the sort of fantasy she writes is an obscure or underserved niche presently.)

Also, since it's implied she makes stacks of money from the controversy I can't feel too bad for her.
Michal at 17:12 on 2014-12-14
Did the character's blog posts resemble something like this?
Sonia Mitchell at 21:33 on 2014-12-14
Ha, yes indeed.
And I do agree that it's accurate for a certain type of writer. I just can't help feeling that (in any field) it's mean for extremely successful people to make fun of people lower down the pecking order. But not a major issue by any means.

It occurred to me this morning that one thing the previous novel did very effectively was to manage the time directly covered by the book. The device of having Robin for a limited period worked very well in adding an artificial timeline. For this novel, in contrast, I felt slightly adrift as to how many days it was covering. The snow and the Christmas preparations definitely helped anchor it in a rough period but I couldn't tell you how long it took them to solve the case.

I look forward to the inevitable future installment of the series where Culpepper is murdered or accused of murder or something and Strike and Robin have to clean up his mess.


Me too. Especially if it means the return of Nina Lascelles, who I rather liked.
Ichneumon at 03:36 on 2018-08-10
Reading through this now and quite enjoying it.

I will say that I think Rowling's models for Owen Quine as a literary figure might be even more esoteric and particular than Burroughs. The dense, outlandish allegorical mode which Quine writes in reminds me a lot of the early period works of John Barth, particularly in The Sotweed Factor and Giles Goat-Boy, albeit with the ostentatiousness of his extremely self-referential mid-period works like LETTERS. Meanwhile, his described prose style and career progression remind me more of the late great John Hawkes: The Gothic, hyper-detailed, hallucinatory descriptive style; the penchant for sexually extravagant and extremely grotesque images and ideas; and most of all, his increasingly inaccessible and self-indugent novels (that nonetheless kept getting published). Both Barth and Hawkes were leading lights of the postmodernists and influential professors of literature, although both are little imitated due to their difficulty and eccentricity of style. Barth's later work is apparently much more accessible, and his first two novels (The Floating Opera and The End of the Road, respectively a comedy and a tragedy on the same themes) are considered classics; Hawkes' work remains somewhat obscure—perhaps better known for bringing Angela Carter onto the staff at Brown University—although his work has something of a cult following (particularly The Lime Twig) and, for the record, what I've read of it is actually quite intriguing and, yes, trippy as *fuck.*
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