Novel News, and Other Redundancies
18 June 2009
My guest post at The Millions today is already drawing some fire, which I expected. Dissent, discussion, it’s all good. Let’s talk about it.
And, of course, I’m on your side (and Sherman Alexie’s, too).
No one is ever going to read “the Bourne Identity” five or ten times. I even doubt fans of the Twilight series can stomach those books past a third read. But many people do read “Moby-Dick” five or ten times. People read and re-read “Huckleberry Finn.”
People point out that there are good books labeled “genre” and bad books labeled “literary,” but this seems to me the same unfair generalization to the one many claim you are making. I don’t think you are claiming that any book in the Literature section of the book store is better than any book in a genre section.
I think a clearer picture could be drawn by comparing the genre titles that sell the most vs. the literary titles most revered (by readers, writers, and critics). And in that case, I’m sure, literary fiction wins–unless, of course, you’re talking sales or money.
Thanks, DP. Your clarifying comparison makes a lot of sense (I’ll send you my blog drafts for input next time I take on a controversial topic!). I have to say, though–I think many people read and re-read bad books all the time. Part of the draw may be similar to junk-food; self-soothing, and a little addictive.
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