Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Bring in the Trash

You know I can’t stand snobbiness. This Flavorwire list – even though it designates the books as ‘trashy’ – is actually very good. I’d prefer to call these just fantastic, bestselling examples of popular fiction.

How many of these have you read? Turns out I’ve only read seven of the forty titles – and I really need to remedy the gaps I’ve got. Why have I never read ‘Gone with the Wind’ for example?

One of the happiest summers I ever had was in Edinburgh in the late Nineties, and it was the summer that cargo pants were in. They had those deep pockets down both legs? Very practical for an addicted reader of paperbacks. I went up and down all the charity shops of South Clark Street (and there were / are a lot!) and kept myself entertained with yellowing blockbusters with gold-foil embossed titles. I had ‘Sophie’s Choice’ down one leg and ‘A Woman of Substance’ down the other – and I stopped in every other café and tea room I came to in order to pile through some more pages.

Actually, neither of those books appear in this list of forty. Thinking about it, neither do ‘The Rats’ or ‘The Winds of War’. I was a teenager in the 1980s and lots of the big, popular novels were made into ludicrous, nine-hour long mini-series that were filmed all over the world and starred actors of dubious vintage and quality.

What else is missing from this list? What’s your favourite ‘trashy’ classics? The list from Flavorwire is a wonky, idiosyncratic one. Can we get a more representative list of brickthick popular classics?

LATER:  I've been thinking about it all day, and discussing it on Facebook with a whole load of people... and I think I've got my working definition of 'trashiness' in novels...

“For me 'trashiness' transcends quality, genre and other definitions of taste. It's about content. They are books on a grand scale - even when confined to one town. They're usually a bit saucy and feature characters whose behaviour might run the gamut from questionable to downright evil. A whole host of taboos are shattered and worlds usually hidden to the general reader are gloriously explored. I think trashy books are all about having the veil lifted on something you've never experienced and would like to, vicariously. It's about hoping to be shocked and not being able to put your book down. That's 'trashiness' to me - and long may it last.”

1 comment:

  1. I've read a grand total of five of those, if you allow Hunt Emerson's marvellous comic version of Chatterley to be included. Oh, and isn't the cover art for that edition of The Stand wonderful? Simple, yet so evocative in its deliberate archaism.

    The definition of trashy books is a bit difficult, true. It might be wise to paraphrase John Waters and "always remember that there are such things as GOOD trashy books and BAD trashy books".