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More Good Books Than Grains of Sand

lifetime book-lover who writes about - what else? - a variety of books.

Currently reading

The Hours
Michael Cunningham
Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life
Nagoski Ph.D, Emily
Heart-Shaped Box
Joe Hill
Station Eleven
Emily St. John Mandel
Brain Rules for Baby (Updated and Expanded): How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five
John Medina
Progress: 101/336 pages
Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories
Karen Russell
Progress: 83/243 pages
What We See When We Read
Peter Mendelsund
Progress: 229/419 pages
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Mindy Kaling
Progress: 119/222 pages
Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
Kathryn Schulz
Progress: 246/405 pages
A Tale for the Time Being
Ruth Ozeki
Progress: 44/418 pages

Making the Case for Genre Fiction

Jimi Hendrix reading Penguin Science Fiction


the Huffington Post has an excellent article by author M.R. Cary on why genre fiction is valuable reading, and why literary snobbery is not only silly but often just plain wrong. 


on critics who spurn genre writing because it's too formulaic:

Yes, of course there are constraints when you write genre fiction. There are also constraints when you write literary fiction. Totally unconstrained writing would be (to paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut) gibberish interspersed with exclamation marks. When you write -- when you write anything at all -- you write on the end of a tether. But it's a flexible tether, and it's all about the dance you perform on the end of that thing and how you work with it or strain against it or in some cases tie it into knots that were never seen before.

he later continues

But special pleading aside, look at the works of Ursula LeGuin, China Miéville, Lord Dunsany, Angela Carter, Ray Bradbury, Connie Willis, Mervyn Peake, Ted Chiang, Raymond Chandler and Don Winslow (just for starters) and see whether writing in genre made their work less resonant, less profound, less valid and affecting, than the work of any canonically approved genius you care to mention.


And while you're at it, there's fun to be had in trying to think up reasons why Hamletand Macbeth aren't genre fiction. Because they're old, maybe? Because there's an R in the month? One's a ghost story, the other one has witches in it, and both were written (whatever else was in Shakespeare's mind) in a sincere bid to break the record for "most groundlings in a theatre the size of a pocket handkerchief." 

incidentally, Cary's new novel The Girl With All the Gifts is supposed to be pretty darned good. i haven't read it yet, but i intend to.   


* the photo is of Jimi Hendrix reading the Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus (via Zola Books)