What do you all think about the split between literary fiction and genre ("commercial") fiction?
Is the divide really as sharp as a lot of old-guard academics seem to want to make it, or can we actually draw some literary value and understanding from the work of people like King, or Martin, etc.? I'm much more inclined toward the latter opinion and find that the shrugging off of "pop fiction" is an unnecessary, inaccurate, and disdainfully snobbish position to hold.
The problem with King, Martin, et al., isn't that they're 'genre fiction' per se, they're just poor writers without literary value. I agree excluding deserving works on the basis of their genre is a mistake and is to be avoided, but there never will be anything wrong with a divide between 'high/low art,' which seems to be the case here.
I agree with you anon. The very act of dividing books into genres, while maybe useful for cataloguing, is unnecessary. If a book is able to stand on its own, then it's a good book. If it isn't, it's a bad book. At least that's what I feel.
Borges made some great short fantasy, or detective stories, for example. The fact that a book fits an archetype is not enough to discredit it.
It's true that genre fiction writers write shit for the masses, but that shouldn't keep us from good books with fantasy/sci-fi/detective or whatever themes
i've always separated Stephen King from other genre writers because he's so passionate about his work, and it shows in his interviews.
King probably doesn't give a shit about what anyone thinks of him. he's just a pretty cool dude who loves to write.
I hate it desu. I would like to write something which is both acknowledged to have a high literary value and appeals to the masses, but (even assuming that I actually have some talent and ignoring the fact my first language is obscure and difficult to translate) I don't even know such a thing would be ever published as it wouldn't correspond to any existing "market"
some of my fav 19th century novels were actually the popular TV series of their times (Dostoevsky, Balzac), but now the form of "high literature" got (in most cases) too complicated even for an average, decently educated, truly literate person
I guess writers such as Murakami, Houellebecq and Zadie Smith could be considered exceptions, but I think only some aspects of Houellebecq's and Smith's writing are actually good, and I don't like Murakami (but it's a very personal opinion)
i'm a pleb so i'll be honest: i don't understand the distinction. it just seems like "genre fiction" means a subject that's actually interesting, while "literature" means a subject thats fucking boring
which old-guard academics? can you name even a single one? it couldn't be that you have no idea what you're talking about, and have strawmanned the position of quote unquote academia to beg the question, could it? surely you wouldn't have tried to deceive us, anon.
But it's not necessarily an aspect of genre fiction, just something that often happens. And to be fair, a great deal of good genre stuff does clever work with old tools. At that point, isn't it both High and Low art by the definitions we're laying out?
I've read quite a few of King's books and to be honest I think a lot of his stuff has literary merit. 11/22/63 might be the best time travel story I've read: he has a really good understanding of what can be unnerving about the mundane parts of life.
All fiction can be summed up that way. Genres are just tools for categorization. Most books that are published are terrible. "Literature" is not a genre. It just gets tacked on to books that some people decide are worthwhile. Some of those books that are now considered literature still reside on their respective genre shelves in book stores.
/lit/ spends way more time than it should obsessing over genre fiction. It comes across similar to the sort of homophobia you mainly see in closeted homosexuals.
For me the problem with "genre fiction" is that a book has less chance to be published or red without belonging to a category which clearly tells the writer what to expect: romance, sci-fi, "young adult" stories, crime stories, whatever. You buy a Scandinavian crime book and you know, more or less, what to expect. It could be the best crime story ever, but probably nothing more.
Go to "archive of our own" and look at how fanfictions published there are carefully labeled: of course the pairing, is the story happy or not, will any unpleasant things happen etc. The authors do it so their readers find what they want and won't be disappointed. This could well be the future of literature in general.
It's just commodification of literature. Making it easier to consume in order to make it easier to sell.
I'm not saying the process is wrong. This should be discussed. But ignoring it doesn't make sense.
It all depends on how you look at it I guess. If you buy a book that doesn't fit in to a genre you will generally just be getting the story of some characters day to day life. If you buy a science fiction book you might be getting the story of someones day to day life on another planet or living on a spaceship or whatever else.
Now, the fact that they're on another planet or a spaceship may not be a good reason to read a book but I don't really think it's a good reason not to read a book. I see the reading for plot meme thrown around here a lot but I don't think that happens all that much, reading for setting would probably be a better way of putting it. By only reading books about starships or only reading books without starships, either way you're reading for setting.
Of course this may not apply to crime or romance but I'm sure it's much easier to write a novel involving crime or romance without it being put on the genre shelf.
I think we should throw genres out the window and just talk about good and bad books. There's some amazing writers focusing on genres (plus a shitload that suck), and there's plenty of terrible writers doing slice of life or "literary" fiction (whatever that means). We should start valuing works for their quality and not by what labels we can stick on them.
to me, it's the difference between storytelling and literature. language simply doesn't serve the same purpose for Joyce or even "easy" writers like O'Connor and Hemingway that it does for a writer like King. it's like reading a translation of Beowulf. the story is there, but we don't get a sense for the language, that deeper context is lost.