One of the weblogs which I check in with every day or so is Michael Allen's Grumpy Old Bookman. Allen is a booklover who seems to have been involved in the book publishing business for the past forty years or so. I'm not sure exactly what he has done in that time, though he does state somewhere on the weblog that he has been writing books for that long. His inside knowledge of the industry leads me to think he's done a lot else besides.
Just recently he wrote and published a review of Christopher Booker's The Seven Basic Plots which was not terribly complimentary. His view of the book seemed to gell with other reviews I had read of it, saying such things as: "It seems to me to be entirely pointless"; and "Booker's book seems to me to be gloriously beside the point. The point is not that the number of plots is limited: it is that the number of possible emotional effects that can be created in the reader/audience is limited. The number of ways in which those emotions can be aroused, however, is infinite, and depends largely (but not entirely) on the skill of the writer."
I think you get the idea.
Anyway, a few of GOB's readers decided to pitch in and add their own thoughts. Me among them.
Now, I can say that I have not read Booker's book. (I had it on an Amazon wish-list for a while as it sounded interesting. I deleted it when I started to read the reviews.) But that, of course, has never stopped me from making a comment when I feel like it. So I did: "And here I was thinking that Joseph Campbell had nailed it in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I seem to remember Campbell putting the contention that there was really only one plot, you just took out the bits and variations you wanted."
I can tell you that I have read Campbell's book a couple of times and think it pretty damn good - even if George Lucas is a big fan. So I was trying to be a bit cute - I probably wrote the comment after a couple of reds - and didn't think much more of it. I mean, I didn't slag off the author or anything, just had a bit of a shot at his basic premise, is all.
All of this happened a couple of weeks back, and today, as I read through the GOB weblog entries, I came across a note from Allen that Christopher Booker himself had read the exchanges and had posted a comment. Allen suggested we read what he had to say and make up our own minds.
The interesting part? Oh, that's where Booker says: "...I am afraid these postings give the impression of various grouchy old bores sitting round in a pub, cantankerously banging on about something they know nothing whatever about."
And there we have it: I'm officially a "grouchy old bore". Makes one feel all warm inside.
Now, if you'll just excuse me: I'm off to the pub. Might just stop off at the bookshop for a copy of The Seven Basic Plots on the way.