In the New Yorker
, Anthony Lane has a review
this week of Hannibal Rising
, the fourth book in Thomas Harris's increasingly bedraggled Hannibal Lecter series (I've never read any of them), which should probably be required reading for anyone who wants to work in genre.
Why did Harris pursue this line of inquiry? He has written one great Lecter book, “The Silence of the Lambs,” and two lesser ones, so why produce a fourth that is not merely the weakest but that makes you wonder if the others were so gripping after all? There is a puff of grand delusion here, of the sort to which all thriller-writers are susceptible. Compare “The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” an early novel by George V. Higgins, with the bulky solemnities of his later work; or, for that matter, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” with more recent le Carré like “The Night Manager” or “The Constant Gardener.” At some point, each man started to hear that he was so much more than the master of a genre (as if that were an ignoble thing to be), and responded to such flattery by expanding his fiction beyond its confines, not realizing that what he felt as a restriction was in fact its natural shape.
There's also a good piece on the Bible-publishing business
, which is worth it just for the quotes:
“Look at satellite radio—what is that, a hundred and seventy-eight stations? And it’s all niched. We’re doing the same thing in Bibles.”