RARA-AVIS: Re: half-time job for mystery novelist

From: Mark D. Nevins (nevins_mark@yahoo.com)
Date: 19 Nov 2008

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    One last note on this thread:

    Having lurked on this List for a few years now, I am often struck by the strong anti-academic tone taken by some of the posters.

    Recent comments describe people have chosen university careers as "prissy and fusty" and assert (incorrectly it turns out) that "no self respecting English Ph.D would soil him/herself writing mystery/suspense." And generally speaking, any comments on this List on academics, the university, or (god forbid) literary theory tend to be disparaging and dismissive, in what seems to me a knee-jerk manner, and without ever offering much critical insight.

    Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and many people these days don't let facts get in the way of their opinions, which I suppose is also their right, but as someone who's spent a lot of time in the university and a lot of time in mystery bookshops, I don't think the stereotypes of academics perpetuated here are any more accurate than stereotypes we could imagine of "genre" readers (I really can't stand that term "genre"--isn't every text of one genre or another?) as semi-literate geeks who lack literary taste. The only difference is, I rarely hear my friends who are professional academics commenting on mystery or science fiction aficionados in a derogatory manner.

    As, again, a relative newbie to crime fiction, and someone who equally picks up Plato or Prather, Hammett or Hardy for pleasure, I do wonder why some RARA-AVIANs feel so compelled to throw barbs at what seem to me to be vauguely and poorly constructed notions of academe and academics.

    Best, Mark Nevins

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