If you join us late, dear reader, to this teacup-sized storm in the world of Welsh writing, here is a brief overview:
Mr Julian Ruck has written some books. It seems several were self-published, but at least one was published by a small printing company looking to work their way into publishing. This probably wasn’t the best of all possible starts for them, because Julian’s books are startlingly bad. At least one respectable Welsh publishing house has (unsurprisingly) turned him down.
We need to be clear about this – that’s not startlingly bad as in we don’t like them, that’s startlingly bad as in verging on illiteracy. He scatters commas like confetti, enjoys writing about ‘anal gas’, uses apostrophes to form plurals, and produces sentences such as ‘Sleep sometimes chased them out of hiding, as dreams and their reality appeared from time to time’. No, you’re not alone in your confusion. He also indulges in occasional plagiarism, having published material in the Llanelli Star that he copied from Christopher Hitchens – see http://www.theleftroom.co.uk/?p=1838 for more on that.
Not content with producing appallingly bad writing and spending his spare time trying to flog it to unsuspecting shoppers in soi-disant book signings, Julian rather bizarrely decided to hold a festival celebrating e-books, in Kidwelly. The decision seems based principally on the fact that he could call it the Kidwell-E festival; perhaps not the best of reasons for holding a festival.
Most people (including those who hold festivals!) think that holding a festival is a challenge. Not so Julian – he thinks if you offer a first prize of £10,000 and stick up a few tents, you’ll get 20,000 visitors or thereabouts – even if the Olympics just happen to be on at the same time.
Julian’s festival is a dramatic disaster, with less than 100 people turning up, and hordes of unhappy stall-holders. In a truly bathetic conclusion, Julian gives away the winner’s cheque in a haze of alcohol and swearing.
Since then, he’s been blaming anything and everything for his own short-comings – the people of Kidwelly, real authors who dare to disagree with him on Twitter, the backwardness of Wales in general, but most particularly authors who get grants in Wales or get published by Welsh publishing houses.
This last has become an obsession of his – in shouty, ALL CAPITAL posts on his blog and odd public meetings, he has been claiming that it’s all wrong, it’s all corrupt, and he is the knight in shining white armour who will bring the entire edifice of arts funding in Wales crashing to its knees. He is particularly vehement on the topic of authors who get grants for books that don’t get published.
And now, rather delightfully, it turns out that Gillian Brightmore, who likes to follow Julian around cyberspace agreeing with him and telling other people they’re horrible if they don’t agree with Julian, has received Welsh Arts Council funding for a book of short stories – which she appears never to have published (probably because her literacy levels are little better than Julian’s)!
Julian thinks it’s silly that anyone could see self-interest in his tedious attacks on the grants system for writers in Wales (which is essentially the same as the grant system for writers in England). It’s going to be fascinating (by which I mean of mild, passing interest) to see how he responds to the hypocrisy of his biggest fan.
You’d probably better stop eating those sour grapes, Julian. They seem to be giving you the most dreadful indigestion.