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Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Why Janet Evanovich Is Not A Real Person

By Henry Bland, the SLAWMEISTER

"Slaw is where it's at!"

 It is comforting and convenient to believe that the popular mystery writer Janet Evanovich enjoys huge sales of her books because of the ability to comprehend the landscape of the American reader’s value system and then reflect this back to them in narrative form.

The alternative – believing that Ms. Evanovich is simply defining values and emotional landscapes which are then shoveled into a mass consumer audience, is insightful but perhaps because of its elitist assumptions about culture still misses the mark.

The question of whether art reflects or dictates values is a false dichotomy that ultimately limits a understanding of what is at stake by framing the limits of the question.  There are two interrelated questions marginalized by this chicanery.

How does the mechanism that chooses one from a thousand other mystery writer’s function and what are the interests of those who control that process.  And second, how does a particular book end up in a persons hands.  Here what is needed is a description of the various systems and processes of distribution.

This would include factoring in advertisement, critique and more obvious forms such as shipping.  Of course to answer that fully the interests of the people who control these process would also need considered.

These  questions are not tools merely to critique what is commonly thought of as popular mass cultural forms, but should be asked of any art form at any point in history.

It is my contention that the surface value as represented in the art form is simply the carrier of the value system embodied in the logic of the process and the interests of the people who directly benefit from that process.

The real values being imposed on people are of a second order.  These values involve how a culture will reproduces itself and how that is decided. 

From this perspective what is to be analyzed is not the immediate details of characters and situations in books as they stand in relationship to the general society or a body of readers.

What this tries to get at are the reasons that certain novels and the picture of culture they represent slide so fluently through the creation and distribution process that is the book industry.

The mystery waiting to be unraveled is why readers, who have original, complex and nuanced, emotional and intellectual lives would choose to spend time with characters who represent stereotyped values and situations?


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