RE: RARA-AVIS: Motherless Brooklyn

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 15 Aug 2003

Todd Mason wrote <snipped>: Well, Mike, I have a problem with the notion of
"genre" vs. non-genre writers, but Lethem has written other fiction which at least rubs up against cf, GUN, WITH OCCASIONAL MUSIC being the most obvious example...

I've been meaning to get to Frazier for years, but get the impression he's more pretentious than Lethem, whom I'd definitely refer to as ambitious, instead.

************ Thanks for the comments, Todd. I ordered his GUN book immediately. As you undoubtably know, I meant nothing demeaning by the phrase "genre." To me it just means a fairly well-established kind of literary work, like mystery or science fiction. I leave it to others to rank genre fiction as lower than the sump pump in a gopher's basement.

Speaking of genre, Frazier's COLD MOUNTAIN could probably get an award for all the genre it skirts. Civil war genre is an obvious choice, but there aren't any battle scenes. Romance is another, but no "true" romance reader would call it that. It's hardboiled though. Down to the core. It reads like a beautiful sad song.

After a suitable period of rumination, I think the similarity between Frazier's and Lethem's books is that they both involve socially awkward protagonists in a seemingly typical setting that turns out to be sorta bizarre.

Both authors muddle the task of the genre-sorter with these books.

And, Bill, thank you for the Boucher link!


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