I saw a newspaper airticle the ither day that raised an interestin question: whit wey daes adults like readin bairns’ fiction? I felt that it didna really win tae an answer, an it’s been botherin me. Nae doot the airticle’s a gey ower-simplified accoont o Louise Joy’s thinkin, bit the tak-hame answer for the journalist wis that “such books represent a ‘symbolic retreat from the disappointment of reality’”, an there wis mention o some of the hamely attractions o the warld o The Wind in the Willows, amangst ithers.
Ah wad hae been leukin in a deiferent place masel. A lot o modren fiction for adults is gey repellent, sae Ah’m no surprised gin some fowk is repelled. There a norie aboot that proper fiction for grown-up fowk haes tae be edgy and push agin the boondaries. An as the boondaries has gien wey, bit the pushin haes aye continued, we’ve gotten ontae some gey roch grun. It seems naitral tae readers noo tae be invitit tae spen thair leesure oors inside the heid o a psychopath, or lattin a braken, self-obsessed character greet aa ower the reader’s shoother.
Ah cannae think whaur, but Ah’m shair Ah’ve read an interview wi Alexander McCall Smith whaur he was bein made tae defen hissel for bein sae oot o touch wi the Zeitgeist – because he daured screive aboot daicent, weill-faured fowk gaun aboot thair ilka day lifes in a douce, neebourlike wey. An it’s no as gin he avoids the daurk side o life - in his ‘No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency' novels there’s AIDS, an there’s the stealin o bairns tae be killt or mutilatit for tradeetional medicine (muti). Bit the pynt o view is that o the fowk warslin agin sic things; there nae rowin in the glaur for the thrawart satisfaction o’t.
Maybes it’s a sign o a ceevilisation in decline – the circenses o ancient Rome. Maybes it’s a thrawn rebellion agin the feminisation o modren life, the enforced ‘niceness’, the saft totalitarianism that will fling ye in the jyle for insultin (selectit) neebours, bit ignore a neebourhood campaign o terror be teenage gangs. The time is oot o jynt, an gin the prevailin tid is anger, maybes anger fins it sootherin tae imagine tortures an nightmares.Bit spickin for masel, Ah’m no surprised gin mony fowk wad raither spen thair time wi fictive characters that are maybes imperfeck human beins, bit are daein thair best tae uphaud thair humanity agin aa adversity. Ah suspeck that’s the attraction o bairns’ fiction whan ye get richt doon til’t – basic human daicency.