"I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be truly disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man."

21 February 2011

Fiction Battle

Or: Why snobbery in any form only makes you look like a douche...

The Death Flu cramped my writing for over a week, no doubt about it. While my brain functioned on occasion and I wrote more than before I caught the Death Flu, little of it felt substantive to me. With the exception of the migraine rant, I wrote because I felt I needed to but the passion behind the writing, the drive that keeps me going, was simply lost in the sea of a mind clouded with phlegm.
I’d like to thank Joe Hill for breaking me of my malaise. After a series of tweets which delivered the right amount of snark and disdain for an article on literary versus genre fiction (in which he advised readers not to seek out the originating article), I caved and followed the desire to seek out this supposed atrocity.
To say that it bothered me would be a bit of an understatement. It’s not entirely the content of the article but the tone that drives me to imaginings of strangling this writer with his own pompous ascot, which I envision he wears just to keep his inflated head from floating off his body. Yes, I resorted to cheap jibes. I suppose I’m just not ‘literary’ enough to appreciate his pompous, condescending, insulting tone as it relates to the general reading populous.
However, in reading this article I found my way to this one which, while it doesn’t entirely refute Mr. Pompousity does point out that readership and acceptance is a two-way street. Just as an article slamming all fiction that isn’t literary makes one seem like a giant douche, a retort which only serves to praise the mass consumption of Grisham and Steel books and casts aspersions on meriting works of literary fiction for being too high-brow makes that critic seem like the giant douche’s hillbilly cousin – who’s still descends from the family of Lord and Lady Douchebag.
The writer of the second article sees merit in both types of literature, and the problems inherent in either side dismissing the other for either pandering to the common folk or targeting only the upper echelon that sneers at the fiction of the plebes.
I understand that everyone has different tastes, but there is no pride in ignorance of literary fiction. Genre writers can learn from literary fiction, just as literary writers can learn from genre fiction. There's a middle ground.
Now that is an anti-snobbery statement I can stand behind.

I won’t pretend that I do not place labels on certain types of fiction based on my own personal tastes. However, I will say that for me great fiction, regardless of status, is about a compelling story, engaging characters, and a mark of creativity. A lack in any one of these areas does not discount the book for me as an example of poor writing or storytelling because each of those qualifiers contains no small amount of subjectivity. Still, if my interest is not captured you’re probably going to lose my investment in your writing – and even high-brow writers of the highest caliber get props from me even if your writing (and subsequent acceptance into the bourgee canon) frustrates this little pixie because all I got from your story was an intense need to throw your book across the room. Unless you’re Emily Brontë, even a violent reaction still merits note because it provoked thought. I’m not a huge fan of LitFic, but I’d rather be incensed at your pompous popularity than bored to tears by your drivel.

Still, if you want my respect, be a good writer, a good critic and an anti-snob. In simple words: Don’t be a douche.


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