Daily Archives: January 29, 2008

No duh: thriller writers not so dumb after all

Looks as though I owe an apology to Joan Brady, the author who received a £115,000 settlement after fumes from a shoe factory made her hands and legs go numb. According to an interview in today’s Guardian, Brady never claimed that the fumes forced her to “go lowbrow” and write thrillers. That, she says, was the spin put on the story by the Times.

“I haven’t dumbed down. I never said it. That’s the pure invention of the Times. They have decided that this effete literary woman has become so stupid that she can no longer write boring literary fiction and writes poorly selling thrillers instead. My mental faculties haven’t deteriorated. And anyway, what an insult it would be to thriller writers to suggest that you need to be stupid to write them. It seems to me so irritating that you would denigrate a remarkable genre where much of the best writing is done.”

Thanks for that.

Neither Brady’s writing nor her life can be called dull: “According to her memoir, she fell in love with her future husband when she was only three, even though he once had an affair with her mother. ‘When I was three,’ she says by way of clarification, ‘there were three choices of lover for me. There was my cousin. There was Robert Oppenheimer… Or Dexter.'” She eventually married novelist Dexter Masters, and, the interviewer notes, “Either she knows how to tell a good story about herself, or Joan Brady is not very aware about how strange this story sounds.” How about both? Brady knows how to tell a good story. And she’s from Berkeley, where nothing people do is considered strange.