"People ask me if I ever thought of writing a children's book. I say, 'If I had a serious brain injury I might well write a children's book,' but [here he shakes his head] the idea of being conscious of who you're directing the story to is anathema to me, because, in my view, fiction is freedom and any restraints on that are intolerable."
Amis went on to say:
"I would never write about someone that forced me to write at a lower register than what I can write." Leaving aside the slightly questionable structure of this sentence--I have a nasty feeling that this is another dig at us brain-dead children's authors. Not living up in the thin, sere air of an ivory tower, I am not quite sure what to make of this idea of a lower register. A lower register of what? Intensity? Talent? Literary merit? For me, characters come, sometimes whether I want them to or not. Would I choose not to write them if I somehow saw them as inferior to my 'great and shining talents' as an author? No one forces any author to write anything or anyone--and if Amis thinks that children's books are somehow unworthy of the application of his own great and shining talents, without any of the kind of literary merit he recognises as such, beneath contempt, lower than the dust, then he is welcome to do so. But he would be quite wrong.
Sebastian Faulks said at the end of his programme that "John Self looks like the end of the line for the hero...for literary novels, it's over. The hero is dead. End of story." He also said something else. He surmised that the hero hadn't vanished completely, but had just moved further afield into children's fiction. In fact, "the modern novelistic hero is...well...Harry Potter." Oh dear, Mr Amis. Perhaps you'll have to write a children's book after all. I dare you to try.
*Addendum* There's now been a lot of media comment on this article/subject. I've added links to the various newspaper articles below. LC 12.2.2011
The Huffington Post
The Daily Telegraph
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