Wednesday, August 1, 2007

stranger than fiction

The Guardian today has two pieces about reality impinging into books. The first is a blog about the publication of a book as a marketing exercise by BMW. I suppose it was only a matter of time until corporations would cut out the wasteful middle stage of actually engaging academics or authors to do legitimate research flavoured in a certain direction, to just hiring a ghost writer to do it directly.

The other piece reports that author Laura Albert has been ordered to pay legal costs to a production company for pretending that her fictional book was a memoir based on her life as a male, cross-dressing truck stop prostitute. Albert feels that she should not have to pay the money, since the character really lives inside her, despite the fact that at signings the character was frequently performed by author friends and relatives.

I have had several university students who do not understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Some of them aspire to be English teachers, and some of them aspire to be writers. Perhaps Albert could run some nifty workshops for the crew, and they could come up with a new genre - spoofiction, perhaps, or non-fiction lite.

Teachers have also been coming under fire in The Australian over the past week or so. Apparently an academic report has shown that primary school teachers are not competent at advanced maths, and that the profession cannot attract people with high maths skills. The letters pages and discussion lists have been quick to respond with anecdotal tales of stupid teachers, of teachers that are lazy, that don't do enough to earn their money and have more holidays than other people. We got away from maths pretty quickly in the discussion. To my shame I felt a bit caught up in the teacher bashing and let my anxieties about the skills of some of my students colour my response to the information. I hate it when I do that!

Anyway, it seems that there is a real loathing of teachers out there, which kind of surprises me in a way. I guess we all carry around so much misery and hatred from our own school years that we are quite happy to load it onto the backs of the complete strangers to whom we entrust our kids.

So I am retreating into fiction myself. I never mistake any part of my life for fiction, and I don't think I've ever mistaking any of my writing for reality. But I do like to live inside a nice story as much as possible.

Reading: Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings. By which it can be seen that I am far, far away from reality of any kind right now.


Arevanye said...

"the profession cannot attract people with high maths skills"

Let's see...low wages, low regard for my profession in society, disrespect from parents, no support from the community. Oh yeah, if *I* had high math skills I'd be looking elsewhere for a career too!

Penthe said...

Yes, I can't imagine why mathematicians are drawn to other careers. Such a mystery.