Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Everyone thought they knew what was taking place behind the scenes in the museum--the LitBlog Co-op was selecting the most obscure (and therefore the best) of the small press books to bring to the hoards who frequent the literary blogs. Instead, the Co-op selected Kate Atkinson's Case Histories and suddenly, suddenly everyone was feeling emotionally weird--wasn't Atkinson too well known already? Hadn't the literary establishment already played a game of human croquet with her after her Whitbread win ten years ago (a woman of her background couldn't even completely understand what po-mo was, let alone write it, except by accident, the snarking went). Well, chill out, literary folk: it's not the end of the world.

While it's tres early yet, I can't see locally that the LitBlog Co-op is having much impact, which ought to make those who are disgruntled with the selection feel a bit better. I checked the public library catalog for Case Histories info immediately after reading of its selection Sunday morning: of the nine copies in the local 23-library system, six were checked out and there were five holds. Today there's five copies checked out and six holds.

Where's Oprah when you need her?

Last fall I was the first, and for a long while the only, hold waiting on a copy of Case Histories. I finally broke down and ordered a copy from the UK--I much preferred the British cover (and am happy to see it's being used for the US paperback due out this summer) and I hate waiting for the library to get around to processing the titles I want when the latest Danielle Steels and John Grishams always command immediate attention because so many more people want them.
Currently, Kate Atkinson holdings at the library consist of two copies of Human Croquet (one checked out), five copies of Emotionally Weird (three checked out), and the nine Case Histories. The only copy of Behind the Scenes in the entire sytem, a large print version, has a status of "missing." Evidently no copies of Not the End of the World were ever purchased. It must have not have received the "recommended for larger fiction collections" from Library Journal Review that Case Histories did.

I'll admit, as much as I love Kate Atkinson, I did feel a brief stab of disappointment that the Co-op didn't bring a wonderful book I'd never heard of to my attention, but heck, most of the Oprah books I bothered with I'd read before they were ever selected too. Right now I'm just enjoying the comments, and looking forward to the interview with Atkinson and learning what the other books considered this go-round were.

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