The verb ‘to mongrel’ or ‘mongreling’ was, so far as I know, coined by Ralph McLean, the Executive Producer of Yartz. The word signifies ‘to acquire, by fair means or foul, free review copies of books and films, or free tickets to gigs or the theatre for the purposes of reviewing said books, films, gigs or theatrical performances.’ Admittedly, a rather different definition is provided on the preposterous Urban Dictionary.
I like a good mongreling session. Part of my every week is generally spent happily snooping through the press releases of large and small publishing houses and sending emails to harassed publicists trying to weasel books out of them.
In a good week, a few judiciously typed words will cause eight or nine books to wing their way to Yartz GHQ where I fall upon them like a famished termite.
It will have become abundantly clear to you, if you’ve had a browse through this blog, that I’m a bit funny about books. The idea that publisher will send you books – gratis, pro bono – if you can only convince them that you’ll review the works in a public forum moistens, as you might well imagine, my literary pleasure glands to no small degree.
One of the best things about mongreling is the element of uncertainty.
When I buy books I generally have something particular in mind to purchase, or I’ve stumbled across something that looks promising: but mongreling exposes one to wild uncharted territory.
I’d never shell out one hundred and twenty-five jimmy o’ goblins for The Art of Australia by John McDonald, yet a signed copy rests negligently on my coffee table. I’d never have picked up a fat fantasy novel by China Miéville of my own volition, yet now my shelves are bursting with them.
Naturally, mongreling isn’t all beer and skittles: a few world-class stinkers have made their odious way through the letter box, but then again I didn’t pay for them.
Now – anyone out there sleeping with a publicist from MUP? Seriously, getting free books out of those guys is like trying to seduce a dryad.