The prevalent trend in books, at least on these battered old islands, seems to be for the overnight discovery. It’s a tempting myth for journalists to find some literary Kaspar Hauser out of nowhere (despite the fact there are no nowheres) and display his or her talents before the court. Yet it remains very much a myth and does little to demonstrate how much time and effort the likes of Eimear McBride have put in through the years and how many barriers they faced in trying to get their stories to the public. We like our myths though and the idea of overnight success (holding out the hope we will have our own) prevails even if it was years in the making and came almost in spite of those heralding it.
Given that it chimes with the cult of youth, and the idea of book award juries as the arbiters of taste and gatekeepers to The Canon (insert an ominous rumble of thunder), this tendency will likely continue. Which is fine provided we recognise that there are others, swimming against the tide, quietly, brilliantly writing great books and evolving as writers as the years go by. One such writer is Benjamin Myers. I spoke to him here for Susan Tomaselli’s magnificent Gorse; issue two of which is imminent and, like Ben’s books, is an essential purchase. Enjoy.