RARA-AVIS: Re: Urban Fiction

From: jacquesdebierue (jacquesdebierue@yahoo.com)
Date: 07 Jan 2009

  • Next message: jacquesdebierue: "RARA-AVIS: Re: Urban Fiction"

    --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, DJ-Anonyme@... wrote:
    > I must say I'm finding the generalizations about Urban Fiction quite
    > amusing. They seem to be almost identical to the dismissals of the
    > roots, at least, of the lit this list is built around. It holds both
    > the negative aesthetic judgements and the social outrage that were
    > prompted by the pulps (particularly the shudder pulps), horror comics
    > (Dr Wertham, anyone?) and, especially, Spillane.

    I didn't read that. What Kevin did was pass an aesthetic judgment
    (stereotyped characters, in particular).

    > Now Kevin, at least, you seem to be basing your judgements upon actually
    > having read a few of these books, but are you reading them as would
    > their target audience?

    That's a tall order. Once a book is published, the audience is anybody who picks it up. If they're special books for black chicks, I can still read them, being neither black nor a chick. The same way I can read a western without being a cowboy, an Indian or a desperado.

    >Wouldn't these exaggerated, cliche,
    > stereotypical bad black men resonate differently in that different
    > cultural context? Basing my assumption more on friends I know who are
    > big fans than any actual sales figures, isn't the primary audience for
    > this genre black FEMALE? And isn't the emphasis (again, based on chats
    > with fans, not having actually read them) of these books more on the
    > black women who love men who have embraced these stereotypes than on the
    > men themselves? If so, it'd make perfect sense that the men would be
    > exaggerated stereotypes, just as bad boys are exaggerated in all chick
    > lit.

    It would make sense, but whether that evokes literary sympathy in a reader might depend more on the quality, on how it's done, on the actual story (originality, power, etc.). Cultural context is important, of course, even crucial, but if the story doesn't interest or doesn't satisfy, it's hard work.

    > It just
    > strikes me how much the dismissals echo those prompted by the pulp
    > fiction we canonize here.

    I remain curious about this genre, which I don't know. But I am not about to buy a dozen books in order to check the genre out. Recommendations of specific books that stand out would be very helpful.



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