“How will we remember 2006? As the year Kiran Desai won the Booker, or the year that David Mitchell didn’t?” Stuart Kelly asked in The Scotsman on Sunday. “For the return of Thomas Pynchon or Hannibal Lecter? Given there are so many awards, prizes, commendations, best-ofs and authorial accolades, I’ve set up a few of my own.”
Whether or not you agree with Kelly that we should devote some time to “oblivion, obloquy and the outrageously bad” his list is amusing, even occasionally thought-provoking. For example, he offers up his opinion on who made the year’s most pretentious comment (Alberto Manguel in his Book of the Year contribution to the Times Literary Supplement), what was the most shameful moment in publishing in 2006 (you probably don’t even need a clue) and offers a tongue-in-cheek salute to Neel Mukherjee for being the “Critic with Angriest Bee in Bonnet” when Mukherjee trashed (and I do mean trashed) Irvine Welsh’s Bedroom Secrets Of The Master Chef last summer.
On the other side of the pond, NPR’s Kim Masters seems to be working on a single note from Kelly’s far-reaching (and entertaining) essay when she says that publishing “got a bloody nose” in 2006, “from James Frey to Judith Regan. The publisher has made a lot of money for Harper Collins but obviously went off track with the O.J. Simpson book. She now stands accused of bizarre anti-Semitic conduct and speech, apparently tolerated by Harper Collins until her recent firing.” You can find a link to Masters’ audio piece here.