RE: RARA-AVIS: Genre and its discontents--jumping off or on an as ide

From: Todd Mason (
Date: 27 Nov 2002

From: That said, it is what it is, and although you might think that genre fiction is literary fiction, it's not. That's not my take on it, as there are hb/noir authors out there who I think deal with existential questions far better than some of the supposedly "existentialist" authors in the "literary" canon. Rather, it is the take of the industry. Are they right? Who cares?

I do. Because as long as we take the commercial categorization seriously, or allow others to pretend that it's more than an attempt at marketing, we will see a pointless trivialization of first-rate work, and a common pretense that any work commercially classed as "literary" somehow escapes genre and also is necessarily a better book or more worthy of attention for that fact. The snobbery, from both "literary" and "genre" camps, which ensues is as exasperatingly self-defeating for support of good literary work as it is moronic. It does make for easier marketing, sometimes, particularly for work which strokes the commonly sought-after conventions of whatever literary genre the work can be shoved into.

Though HB certainly seems a child of naturalism to me, and thus has siblings and cousins in the "literary" genres, some, as already noted, well worth the investigation here. Also, of course, among westerns and other "genre" genres. TM

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