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One Week Later, How's It Going?

The thread on Ben Payne's (benpayne) blog is still going. I've stopped commenting on it, simply because the whole thread has taken on a negative, personal attack tone, which is fine, really, and people are more than free to keep flinging shit about me if they want, but I'm not required to take part for that. In fact, it works a bit better if I'm not there. However, in case you're curious, some of my favourite things to say about me are these:



There are some nice things, too, like I'm a cunt (always a handy compliment) and it was well argued and other such things, which, really, are good to see, given the rest. There is even some valid complaints there. Those aren't as cool as the personal attacks, and I've taken them on board, and I hope they reach the larger debate, but they do lack the snap of a good personal insult. I blame society, personally.

But, the one thing that baffles me is the statement that I've not read enough Australian fiction this year to judge the fiction I read for the review. It's been made a couple of times now and, like, did I miss a memo? Sure, I freely admit to not reading a lot of Australian speculative fiction last year. Is this suddenly a bad thing? Did I miss that memo too? Was there one that came around and said, "By the way, if you don't read Australian fiction, your opinions on fiction are meaningless!" Is, like, the reading I did of all the other writers from around the world ridiculous? How about the years of reading the local scene before that? How about the extra reading of the authors in the review, so I was up on them? It seems to me that I am meant to have two categories for fiction now, one marked The World and the other marked Australian. It's a curious statement, that, and it appears to be saying to me that I have to judge Australian fiction different, that I cannot somehow recognise good fiction, and that to recognise good Australian fiction is to somehow have a different set of criteria, and to not judge them by the standards of which I uphold the rest of the world's fiction.

I missed that memo, right? My fax machine--well, I've never had a fax machine. It's why the memo probably went right past me and I wasn't up to date on it.

Still, you know, I admit that I didn't read a lot of Australian fiction last year, but so what? I read the authors where I could, have a knowledge of the independent scene here, and good fiction is good fiction, and who cares where it comes from? Sure, you could argue that I should have had a huge knowledge of the scene to suggest better fiction was available, but was that really the point of the review? To go round and say, well, this sucked, but this was good, why didn't this get picked? To judge them against the rest of the scene? Well, that might be a fair argument, but if the whole scene is as weak as the fifteen stories I read, so weak that it makes these fifteen look strong, do I then have to change my opinion?

Comments

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girliejones
Feb. 7th, 2006 11:10 am (UTC)
I think the problem, Ben, is that you argue two points of view and I'm having trouble reconciling them. See when you were asked if you wanted to participate in the Asif! recommended reading list you did that whole post about how you had read virtually nothing in the scene and it was not worth doing so. It then becomes hard when you have already separated out the two categories, to hold belief that you review AAs unbiased.
benpeek
Feb. 7th, 2006 11:20 am (UTC)
i think you might be taking the 'not worth doing' so bit too far (if indeed i even said that--i think my words would have been i'm not reading australian fiction just because i'm australian, and fail to see why i should read australian stuff before other stuff). but be it that, what i was being asked for in relation to ASif was to recommend fiction, and i simply hadn't read enough. a lot was published--i only read a small bit, how could i possibly recommend things from it?

reviewing fiction is a different thing than recommending. i might also point out that reviewing fiction for a professional website in a professional capacity is a different thing to the blog post i whip up one morning while eating toast. indeed, it strikes me that the two things are totally different, and i fail to see how it says i wouldn't review the aurealis stories unbiased, especially given the backlash i knew i'd get in this scene if i went in with an axe to grind.
(no subject) - angriest - Feb. 8th, 2006 01:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Feb. 8th, 2006 01:56 am (UTC) - Expand
kazzibee
Feb. 7th, 2006 11:17 am (UTC)
ingrate!
goddam! ain't nobody writing nuffink about me so think yerself lucky!
(heh ya cunt!) hahahaha.
benpeek
Feb. 7th, 2006 11:21 am (UTC)
Re: ingrate!
i could call you a cunt if you want?

:)
Re: ingrate! - kazzibee - Feb. 7th, 2006 11:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: ingrate! - benpeek - Feb. 7th, 2006 11:23 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: ingrate! - kazzibee - Feb. 7th, 2006 11:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: ingrate! - benpeek - Feb. 7th, 2006 11:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: ingrate! - kazzibee - Feb. 7th, 2006 11:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: ingrate! - benpeek - Feb. 7th, 2006 11:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: ingrate! - kazzibee - Feb. 7th, 2006 11:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: ingrate! - benpeek - Feb. 7th, 2006 11:34 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: ingrate! - kazzibee - Feb. 7th, 2006 11:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: ingrate! - benpeek - Feb. 7th, 2006 11:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: ingrate! - kazzibee - Feb. 7th, 2006 11:43 am (UTC) - Expand
jack_ryder
Feb. 7th, 2006 11:41 am (UTC)
I think I missed something -
Let me get this straight -

you warned people you were going to do something (review the Aurealis nominees)

you did it

and now you're a cunt because you didn't read the Aurealis non-nominees as well? (i.e. you did exactly what you said you were going to do.)

so where exactly was the part where you offered to nurture new writers, help make overseas connections for your fellow writers, and nurture the local scene?

and why the fuck should you be expected to do that in the first place?
benpeek
Feb. 7th, 2006 11:47 am (UTC)
Re: I think I missed something -
actually, i was called a cunt in niceness. i was warm and fuzzy with it. the other stuff, eh, y'know? people say what people say. it makes me laugh, for the most part, cause it's so insane--and in some cases, to be fair, the anger is justified. i understand some of it. but others, well, it's just wild wrong stuff.

except for the bit about bringing international contacts in. i don't do that.
speshal_k
Feb. 7th, 2006 11:45 am (UTC)
misunderstood!
benpeek
Feb. 7th, 2006 11:50 am (UTC)
i knew you'd say that ;)
artbroken
Feb. 7th, 2006 12:28 pm (UTC)
I'm a prick

I hate new writers and won't nurture them.

I'm not helping my fellow writer make international connections.

I do nothing to enrich the local scene.

I'm not considerate and lack tact.

My image as a big bad loner is nothing but a pose.


...so hang on, this is actually news to some people?
benpeek
Feb. 7th, 2006 12:31 pm (UTC)
i didn't even know i had the loner image, man. that was new to me.
lokilokust
Feb. 7th, 2006 12:58 pm (UTC)
it's astounding how much that all sounded like any give discussion on the stoker awards.
benpeek
Feb. 7th, 2006 10:16 pm (UTC)
happens everywhere, i imagine.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 7th, 2006 05:18 pm (UTC)
Guess I represent the Icelandic scene, all two of us reading Oz spec fic (the readership for general Oz fic numbers three. We have weekly meetings). I thought it was honest and an interesting read in itself, which sadly isn't a given with literary critique.

Course it only has an impact if you care about the opinions of Mr. Peek. Even if you do (and I do), still doesn't mean I'm going to take your word for what's lacking and what isn't. Actually, I'm more interested in reading much of what you reviewed seeing that is triggered such a strong response in you.

Agnes

benpeek
Feb. 7th, 2006 10:20 pm (UTC)
thank you, agnes.

personally, i never thought people would take my opinion straight out. who would? i've not yet anyone who takes an opinion straight out, and i think, really, strong opinions make people more interested in fiction.
(no subject) - ex_benpayne119 - Feb. 8th, 2006 08:50 am (UTC) - Expand
bodhichitta0
Feb. 7th, 2006 06:14 pm (UTC)
That thread. Wow. Just wow. Going to any Australian speculative fiction cocktail parties soon, Ben? :-/
bodhichitta0
Feb. 7th, 2006 06:15 pm (UTC)
P.S. Thanks for pointing the prick thing out. Missed it and asked mari where it was. :-p
(no subject) - bodhichitta0 - Feb. 7th, 2006 07:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Feb. 7th, 2006 10:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kazzibee - Feb. 8th, 2006 01:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Feb. 8th, 2006 07:33 am (UTC)
Wow, that Kate Eltham wants your head served on a plate, really bad.

I probably missed it but I like how everyone's making about you, when instead, they should be making a fuss defending your criticisms, saying why improvements may or may not need to be made. If they're that passionate about the awards and the scene, isn't that what the should be doing, making it better? Or, maybe they're just too busy with blocking their ears.

J
ex_benpayne119
Feb. 8th, 2006 08:44 am (UTC)
Actually, from what I gather from those in the Know (tm) there is a lot of feedback discussion happening along such lines, so you know, there are positives coming out of it...

(no subject) - benpeek - Feb. 8th, 2006 11:17 am (UTC) - Expand
ex_benpayne119
Feb. 8th, 2006 08:39 am (UTC)
To clarify my opinion:


Can you review stories by Australians without having read much fiction by Australians?

Yes.


Can you argue that those stories were crap?

Yes.


Can you argue that it reflects poorly on the awards that these stories were chosen?

Only if you can point to better ones *or* you believe that the judges should have chosen "No Award" over the choices on offer.

Otherwise the strength of your argument would depend on imaginary stories, which may or may not exist.

I'm just sayin', is all:)

anyway, I hope you weren't offended by any of my comments. Like I said, I liked a lot in the review, and was hoping to drag the comments (negative and positive) onto more specific rather than generalised (or personal) grounds.

benpeek
Feb. 8th, 2006 11:14 am (UTC)
Can you argue that it reflects poorly on the awards that these stories were chosen?

Only if you can point to better ones *or* you believe that the judges should have chosen "No Award" over the choices on offer.


well, i do see your point here, but i reckon just on knowing what the scene is capable of--knowing a history of it, knowing the authors work, indeed, that i can argue it. which of course is exactly what i'd believe, since i wrote it. heh. though perhaps i should have spelt that out more. but i see your point.

anyhow, i'm not bothered by your comments. it's cool. personally, i'm surprised it's still going. i'm thoroughly sick of hearing about it ;)
markdeniz
Feb. 8th, 2006 11:34 am (UTC)
I popped into your LJ after being intrigued with all the latest chat surrounding the Australian fiction debates in benpayne's blog and there is some really good reading here.

I think you should take it as a positive that your words are provoking so much feeling, as that is pretty much what we seek as writers.

Look forward to more instalments...
benpeek
Feb. 8th, 2006 11:48 am (UTC)
oh, yeah, i don't mind the talking. it's cool. welcome to the blog, anyhow. i'm everyone's poster child for hate :)
(Anonymous)
Feb. 8th, 2006 11:44 am (UTC)
If you don't mind one more comment -

The review was good. It was interesting. I liked it.

A passerby.
benpeek
Feb. 8th, 2006 11:48 am (UTC)
cool. thanks.
robinpen
Feb. 9th, 2006 12:15 am (UTC)
Face it Peek.

You're evil.

['The Omen' theme is playing]

YOU'RE EVIL!

Well done.
benpeek
Feb. 9th, 2006 06:01 am (UTC)
thank you, mr pen.

for my next trick, i plan to organise a mass ritual burning of all australian literature :)
robinpen
Feb. 9th, 2006 06:32 am (UTC)
Burn 'My Brilliant Career'. Please!
benpeek
Feb. 9th, 2006 06:38 am (UTC)
bring it yourself!
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