A friend sent me a certain link, thinking it might amuse me. It did, sort of.
Here it is, so you can read it too.
It seems people have been noticing how many characters you like get killed in Game Of Thrones. Some must have been complaining about it, because his response is rather grumpy. But I did chuckle when he pointed out that, among other things, Ned Stark is an idiot who warned his enemy - and then that they had cast Sean Bean in the role, what did people expect? Because, of course, he does tend to play roles in which he is killed off. I can think of two off the top of my head - Boromir in LOTR and a man who got on the wrong side of Henry VIII in the miniseries with Ray Winstone(I forget the character's name, but he was real, and Mr Bean got to use his Yorkshire accent). Though he also played Odysseus in Troy and Odysseus survived, didn't he, and came home to a faithful wife and a loyal son, unlike the other Greek heroes.
Then he went on to call William Shakespeare a psycho and argue that there are piles of bodies on the stage in Shakespeare tragedies. Well, yes. That's how tragedies ended in those days. It was standard practice to have a pile of bodies at the end of those plays. At least Hamlet's best friend is still alive at the end, because Hamlet doesn't let him kill himself. And it's a gorgeous play and you care about the characters.
Though one play Mr Martin describes with gruesome relish is Titus Andronicus, which was probably Shakespeare's first play, certainly early in his career. I must admit, that's one I can't watch. I had to read it at university and haven't read it since then and I didn't go to see the movie(what were they thinking, choosing that one?). It's too awful. There's even a scene where this man is standing making a beautiful, lyrical speech about his niece when she has just been raped and mutilated! But the thing is, it wasn't the only one of its kind. It was part of a very popular genre, the revenge tragedy. I guess he and his company must have decided to cash in on the craze.
And Shakespeare, like a certain American spec fic writer complaining about him in this open letter, was a commercial writer. If he was alive today he would probably be writing sensationalist shows for TV. He wouldn't be getting invited to writers' festivals to talk about the deep and meaningful symbolism in his work. The fact that he wrote stuff that makes you laugh and cry and says for you things that you can't express yourself and has something to say about everything is beside the point. He would probably be shocked to find people running courses in his work. I had a very faint taste of that once, when I found an online review of a short story I had forgotten I'd written, reading into it all sorts of things that had never occurred to me when I wrote it.
Shakespeare was the sort of guy you could have a beer with at the pub. And he wrote plays that are still performed, not because they're great literature(though they are)but because they still have things to say to us.
Then Mr Martin goes on about that dreadful, violent book, the Bible. Well, I can't deny that. I have always liked the Bible for that very reason, all the sex and violence ...;-)
I read The Game Of Thrones when it first came out. I liked it for the believable mediaeval stink and discomfort and for the fascinating weather conditions on whichever planet it is, oh, and for all the eating that goes on. Some fans wrote a wonderful cookbook, which I have at home. I have since read more, though I'm not sure I'll finish the series, not because of the violence and killing off your favourite characters, but because, IMO, it has turned into a soap opera. I'm not a fan of the soaps. I'm also not a fan, in general, of fat fantasy series, however good they might be - and this series is good. Terry Pratchett was another matter. His books weren't thick and it mostly didn't matter if you hadn't read the earlier ones, though you'd probably rush off to find them anyway.
To be honest, there are other books of GRRM that I prefer. Tuf Voyaging, the space-based story of a man and his cats and their adventures in a seed ship. Fevre Dream, the story of vampires in the Old South and a vampire who is sick of killing people and wants to find another way of getting his nutrition, is my favourite. That was about to come out when he was in Melbourne for a very small convention at a tiny hotel in St Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne - the population is small here, so even US minicons would be huge compared to our conventions. (We couldn't afford him now!) I remember him saying that he chose that setting because it was a time and place where slaves could disappear and nobody would ask questions. He was working on the TV series Beauty And The Beast at the time. And I enjoyed his work. Fortunately, the early ones are still in print, no doubt because of the success of his later ones. Read them if you can.