Lucio Ganzini and the Publishers (Part One)

[A month or so ago, The View From Here asked me to write an article for them. I decided to do a review of Lucio Ganzini’s new memoir – only to change my mind, and write this instead. Here, however, is the abandoned Ganzini piece

Which of the many anecdotes Lucio Ganzini stuffs into his recently published memoirs comes closest to summing up his personality? There are a few options, the vast majority of which are too long, too convoluted; too altogether tedious to repeat here. I put forward, therefore, this short excerpt, which just about says it all:

‘The world is split into two distinct groups,’ he said – ‘on the one hand, the ordinary, on the other, the extraordinary’. ‘Oh I don’t know,’ I said, ‘I hardly think you can call one man a group’ (Where the Power Lies: Prats, Pricks and Publishing Houses, Lucio Ganzini, 2009)

This is not presented as a joke. Ganzini has always taken his self-appointed position as ‘The World’s One True Literary Genius’ very seriously. His self-confidence is supreme, grandiose: unbreakable. He doesn’t for a minute wonder whether his opinions are worth the paper they are printed on.

We, on the other hand, may doubt all we like. And so we should. After all, for most of us Ganzini will be a complete unknown. We won’t have read a thing he has written, a lot of which is unpublished, out of print, or available in incredibly small numbers. Nor will we have heard of his exploits, few of which leap from the annals of history with frog-like determinacy. We will end up wondering, no doubt, what he has done to deserve writing a memoir, not least one which has a print run well above a hundred. How did that even happen? And why should we care?

It is, of course, not impossible that a failed writer can offer a fascinating perspective on the writing world. But I balk at the idea that Ganzini coughs up anything other than garbled wisdom, second-rate theories and the general understanding of a certified lunatic. No, the bottom line is that we can’t trust this man. Most of what he says is unadulterated gibberish. And yet there is something curiously entertaining about these reminiscences of his. Despite himself, Ganzini can occasionally come out with a sentence that cuddles the warm lap of sense. This happens, on the whole, when he isn’t trying to be clever: truth is something he only ever stumbles upon (usually when scratching around for something else entirely).

[Part Two]

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