Wankers shelf

I have an ethical dilemma. I don’t get sent a lot of books, but I do get sent some. Inevitably they are not the ones I would like to be sent, while those I would like to be sent I have to go out and buy. And then I don’t have time to read them, but that’s another matter. Usually, the books I get sent that I don’t want I give to charity. Oxfam, Cancer Research, British Heart Foundation. Then you feel you’re doing something useful. But what should you do when you’re sent something that belongs on the Wankers shelf? Do you have a Wankers shelf? I do. It’s for books by Wankers. Books that are so bad – or books by authors who are Wankers, whose books might actually be OK, from time to time, but they themselves are such unbearable Wankers – that you wonder if the best thing to do, rather than giving these books to charity, is to keep them out of circulation. 

I was sent a new book the other day by a Wanker. Let’s call him X. I mean, obviously I’m not going to name him, am I? It would be more fun, of course, but it could lead to all sorts of trouble. And in any case, it doesn’t really matter. He’s one of my Wankers. For you he might not be a Wanker. And you might have Wankers who I think are fab writers. But I’ll tell you what, if you don’t think this guy’s a Wanker, you just don’t know enough about him. So, I’ve got this book; it’s sitting on my shelf. Not the Wankers shelf, but the interim shelf, where the new stuff goes before I’ve figured out where to put it. Like the Just Returned shelf in the library or the New Stock shelf in Oxfam. It’s doing nothing there other than taking up space. It has to either go out, to charity, or be moved upstairs to the Wankers shelf. You see, partly, I feel I’m doing the world a service by keeping this stuff out of circulation, and partly I feel it’s important not to give X any more readers than he already has.

I wonder if I’m on anybody’s Wankers shelf? Actually, if he has one, I can think of at least one author that would definitely put me on his Twats shelf, because I can still picture the email he sent me some months after my review of his novel appeared. A model of brevity, it contained only one word. In surprisingly small type, too.

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6 Responses to “Wankers shelf”

  1. fellhouse Says:

    Did you know each other before you wrote the review?

  2. Wendigo81 Says:

    Yes, but let’s face it: who died and left you as the Universal God of the Tome? Are you a lapsed Pauline?Because, if not, your “interim shelf” sure sounds like Limbo and the Wanker Shelf is obviously Purgatory with you presiding over everything like a veritable fallen pope!
    This hubris would not, in and of itself, be a particularly bad thing ( I pass no judgement) but you do begin your argument by couching it in a purely humanist drive to offer up unwanted books to those without. Surely they should be allowed to judge the level of wankery or not?

  3. nicholasroyle Says:

    Fellhouse: no. Mutual strangers. I was as nice about it as I possibly could be, but it was awful. I do always try to be positive.

    Wendigo81: what Pope or ex-Pope would possess the humility to own up to having been called — with some justification, let’s face it — a twat? Believe me, I know a wanker when I see/hear/read one. Who but a wanker would accept an award at a public ceremony with a speech beginning, ‘I knew [my first novel] was special…’?

  4. Wendigo81 Says:

    Hi Nick,

    Actually, I can think of many popes, past and present, who may deserve the moniker “twat” but my intention wasn’t to enter into a theological debate.
    There is no doubt that there are probably many writers out there with whom you meet who deserve the justified lable of “wanker” but I was thinking more of your initial impulse to give away books- composed by wankers or no.
    As a single mom who often has to forgo my love of reading in order to buy necessities, someone giving me a book strikes me as a particularly human and grandieloquesnt gesture. But I guess context is all, eh?

    Remember, Picasso beat his wife and Wagner was an Anti-Semite, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to judge their craft on its own merit,

    take care,

    Love,

    Wendy

  5. […] The Wankers Shelf — Nicholas Royle on the ethical dilemma presented by authors who are wankers (via 3:Am Magazine): Do you have a Wankers shelf? I do. It’s for books by Wankers. Books that are so bad – or books by authors who are Wankers, whose books might actually be OK, from time to time, but they themselves are such unbearable Wankers – that you wonder if the best thing to do, rather than giving these books to charity, is to keep them out of circulation. […]

  6. We share a surname – as for Wanker’s book – use it to start a BBQ.

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