Monday, December 19, 2005

The big issue ...

... seems to be "literary" vs. "genre" fiction. At least it comes up a lot. Sarah Weinman touches on it in Here we go again, redux.

3 comments:

  1. I think the main challenge with literary versus fiction stems from the worlds that the authors come from. Literary authors are very proud of completing an MFA, studying at Iowa or Sewanee. They hold their heads high when they can say that they've been published in Plowshares or Zoetrope. Creating a club of sorts. But the same is true for genre writers. Many genre writers did not complete an MFA or decided not to write in the literary realm for whatever reasons (and based on many blog articles I've read, the main reason is it being published in a genre is easier than getting published in literary fiction).
    Therefore, these clicks form, quite naturally. The unfortunate side to this is some authors take it to the next level by speaking ill of "the other side," which then causes some of the blog fights I'm sure we've all been privy to.

    Is there a solution? Sure, but it is so simplistic that I'd end up insulting those who partake in the debate.

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  2. Hi Lisa,
    I think you're pretty much right. But I think there is also the added complication that recognition comes to "literary" authors through tony periodocals, and "genre" recognition tends to come by way of the marketplace. Another valid complaint about "literary" fiction has to do with the sameness, not only of style, but of viewpoint: It tends to see all of life through the same glass, darkly. And humor, when there is any, tends to be of the bitter, not the life-enhancing sort.
    The fact remains, though, that there can be good "literary" fiction -- I would cite Larry watson's "The Orchard" -- and bad "genre" fiction.

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  3. Agreed. Big literary names do receive recognition in a broader way compared to genre fiction writers. Maybe the publishing industry as a whole should look at that contradiction and find ways to level the means that excellent authors receive exposure.

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