Monday, August 25, 2003

(Slightly Overdue) Dummy Spit of the Week

Which, in a blatant demonstration of personal favouritism, I'm going to award to myself for this piece. Yes this one, the one you're reading now.

Via john Ray, I've just come across this vile little piece by Andrew Bolt or, as he's known in these parts, good old Colostomy Ears. It appeared in last Thurday's Hun. In it Bolt tips a fairly generous bucket on the Children's Book Council:

If you want to wipe the smile off your child's face, make the poor thing read the books that last weekend won the Children's Book Council awards.

It's true this year's winners at least aren't as horrific as the books of huge-selling John Marsden, who's won several CBC awards himself and was booked to give today's "keynote schools address" at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Marsden, who had psychiatric care at 19, has written a score of novels that seem to confront his child readers with his personal demons, yet for some sick reason are critically praised instead of getting the treatment they deserve -- deep burial at the local tip.

This is Bolt at his sneering, anti-intellectual guttersnipe best - or worst, depending on your viewpoint, but it isn't his moralising disdain for critical opinion that bothers me. Bolt is entitled to form whatever opinions he wishesd of the books he reads and equally free, as a matter of respect for free speech to express them in whatever way he chooses. But in this case, he has chosen to do so in a way which does him absolutely no credit either as a book reviewer or a journalist.

I find it personally distasteful to read about the personal lives of friends - even distant and estranged ones - in the op ed pages of a major metropolitan daily, especially one so content with the gutter as The Melbourne Hun. It's one thing for Bolt to attack the merits of the books he criticises; his sneering attacks on the personal lives of the authors are something else entirely. Bolt has finally been washed from the gutter down into the sewer, in a stream of his own stinking urine.

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