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Middlebrow Marketing & Snobbery (And I'm Lowbrow, So I Find This Amusing)

I don't read the Sydney Review of Books, but I was recommended this article, which as caused a fuss among highbrow authors. The article is quite positive about the three books it spotlights, but it addresses the marketing, and readers' responses to the marketing.


Highbrow = literary

Lowbrow = genre (I'm guessing)

Middlebrow = somewhere in between


I'm not a writer, but as a reader the term "middlebrow" doesn't bother me. (I am lowbrow, after all.) But the authors of the three books find the term "middlebrow" derogatory, and so wrote letters to the editor of the Sydney Review of Books to complain.


As I was reading the first article, I considered adding one of the books to my wishlist (I like Jodi Picoult's fiction, and this book sounds like it's in a similar vein). But yeah... Not adding that to my wishlist after all. Sounds like the authors are revealing their own snobbery towards middlebrow fiction - and middlebrow readers. Certainly they wouldn't want a lowbrow person reading and opining on their work.


And hell yeah I'm a snob! Very picky about what I want to read and what I don't, and have little shame about my reading choices. The three authors seem to be calling out someone else for snobbery, but are in denial about their own snobbery. It's kind of amusing.


I don't know what the three authors are more upset about - having their books described as "middlebrow", or having their publishers market them as middlebrow. If the marketing is false, that's something they need to take up with their publisher, instead of shooting the messenger.


Oh, and they complain about the article writer turning to Goodreads for reader opinions. Heaven forbid someone actually think about the readers, the audience!


"Overlooks the writer's intention and purpose" - MAYBE THEY WEREN'T EVIDENT IN THE TEXT. If the reader is thinking about the author, they're being pulled out of the story, and that's generally a bad sign. So consider it a good thing that the writer's intention and purpose were overlooked.


"So her thesis follows that novels enjoyed by a middlebrow audience might actually have literary and aesthetic value." Yes, they do!


(Oh, I've been told there was wankery on Twitter about all this, but I couldn't be bothered looking for those Tweets. Believe me, there's enough pretentiousness and snobbery in the authors' response article; I don't need to look for more.)