Re: RARA-AVIS: Literature versus literratchure

Date: 20 Jan 2004

> Mark asked:
> >Could this whole crime fiction that is literature label really tell us
> >more about the person making the claim than about the book in question?
> Yes.
> >Could it be that those making these claims feel insecure about enjoying
> >genre fiction and feel a need to elevate any they do enjoy to give it
> >legitimacy?
> Yes, and those who in turn automatically sneer at academics are just
> as full of it. Snobbery cuts both ways.

Hear, hear. On another list I saw the old 'Harold Bloom' debate revived
(Thanks Bill!), and we went through this all over again. Snobbery does in fact cut both ways.

As a matter of fact, when I first conceived of writing my own mystery novel, I was back in school getting my teaching credential (after having taught as an adjunct instructor of history for a number of years at the community college level), and I took my only college-level writing class: a mystery writing class. The guy who taught it even forewent salary for it (he was tenured faculty, quite the expert on English Restoration Literature) because we had less than 20 students in the class.

What a guy. It was pretty neat to be able to discuss by turns Pope's "The Rape of the Lock," and the latest Parker book with him. In fact, he's the guy who insisted that I read Hiassen's "Skin Tight" after taking a look at some of my work, and determining that we had similar styles.

So yes, the prejudice does cut both ways. I say that anyone able to get their stuff out there, and even make a bit of money at it writes "literature." In fact, the people I see most enamored of the faux characterizations of "literary" vs "genre" fiction are literary agents, who are simply trying to break down the market and figure out what they can sell, and how to sell it.

All the Best,


P.S. Speaking of good literature, I'm currently reading two worthwhile books: George P. Pelecanos' "Right As Rain," and an advance copy of Allan Guthrie's "Hope." I'm enjoying both of them, if for different reasons. Once I've finished both of them, I'll lay out for the list why I find Guthrie to be a better writer than Pelecanos (or at, least, in my own case, a "more preferable read," if we're being politically correct).

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