Also on the subject of uncertainty in publishing, I was puzzled by this quote from the same WSJ piece:
Historical thrillers in particular are hot. One theory says readers are seeking a certainty in these books that since the end of the Cold War they're having trouble finding elsewhere.I wonder about this theory for the current popularity of historical fiction, and not just because I'm weary of 9/11 being cited as the cause for every societal shift you can name. I'm more with Allan Massie here. (See yesterday's blog entry.) Historical fiction can usefully remind us that the outcomes of past events -- things that to us, looking back from today's vantage point, may seem inevitable -- were far from certain for people living in those times.
"We're seeing a return to the past because everything was in its place, and people were recognizably polarized in a way that gives us comfort," says literary agent Richard Curtis. "In the post 9/11 world, we aren't clear about our enemies. Is the military officer in an Iraqi uniform a friend, or is he a terrorist posing as one? We need to know who to root for, and historical fiction provides us with that."
Not exactly a comforting feeling, is it?