Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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?
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