Colour Me Bad
Prestige Hong Kong|October 2017

You want to be treated like an adult? Well, stop acting like a child. stephen mccarty dissects the banality behind the rise of the adult colouring book.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin ... Today, in Literature Corner, let’s take a wander down Reminiscence Avenue, far, far, back through the pages of – well, we’ll come to that in a moment – back through the miasma of the cutthroat books trade, back through the historical, febrile addiction to making a dollar, back to the sepia flavoured days of pretty pictures of flowers and trees and treasure, all the way back through the fog of time to the innocent, bucolic days of ... 2015.

Let’s return to a fantasy world of mysterious gardens, bewitching forests and creepy castles. A world in which you never needed one of those big, nasty, complicated dictionary things. In which you didn’t have to plot the untold twists and turns of a scintillating, sinuous sentence – like in a Howard Jacobson novel – before you could enjoy the pay-off. In fact, it was a world in which you didn’t have to read words at all. Hoorah! What fun!

The books world was blessed in those bounteous days: blessed with a Benjamin Button moment in which the cares and concerns of grown-ups dissolved in a spectrum of innocent promise as the years fell away. Those were the days of colouring books. With felt-tip pens. For adults.

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