Adam Mars-Jones is a lively critic, who usually makes sensible judgments. But he momentarily took leave of his senses in his review of Adam Thorpe’s new novel, Between Each Breath, in yesterday’s Observer. Mars-Jones criticised the novel on the grounds that it has an ecological theme. “It’s surprisingly hard to bring green issues into fiction,” he wrote. Fair enough, perhaps. But his next move was truly bizarre: “For one thing, a book isn’t in itself a planet-friendly object, requiring all sorts of materials and processes. Very few British books include recycled paper, and this doesn’t seem to be one of them.” Eh? Does this mean that all book authors (who, after all, probably have no say as to whether their publishers use recycled paper) should avoid commenting on green issues? And what about newspapers? Though the Observer, very impressively, is printed on 100 per cent recycled paper these days, it could hardly claim to be 100 per cent “planet-friendly.” Think of all the carbon emitted by the lorries that distribute it. Think of all those tempting holiday offers in the travel section. Does Mars-Jones think it is “hard” for newspapers to comment on green issues too?
Critic watch 1: Adam Mars-Jones
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