The Genre of Literary Fiction (and Other Oxymorons)

I had to share this article which James Beamon posted the other day:

Fantastic Rant

It was written a couple of decades ago, but still holds true. It neatly sums up everything I’ve always found frustrating about the elitist distinction between literary fiction and genre fiction. I found its brief history of the literary movement especially enlightening. I think attitudes are beginning to change, possibly because popular culture has never been shared as freely as it is today. Genre fiction has always been popular, but I think it’s beginning to get the credence it deserves, if only because the people that like it are now as vocal (even influential?) as the people that don’t.

I’d rather like to frame and display this quote in particular, which sums up what really distinguishes a great story from a mediocre one:

“A story that fascinates is better than one that bores. A story that is eloquent is better than the babboon [sic] howlings of the verbally damned. A story that is profound, that transmits valuable insight, is better than one that is pedestrian or that is opaque. A story that speaks to many is better than one that speaks to few. A story that is beautiful in form is better than one that is inelegant, rambling or clumsy. A story that transports me to another world or that transmits experience is better than a story that leaves me sitting alone and troubled in my reading chair. A story that artfully moves me emotionally or intellectually is better than one that leaves me emotionally or intellectually anesthetized. A story that promotes understanding and creates a community of fans is better than one that seeks to isolate or divide.”

Hear, hear, I say – but take a look and see what you think.

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One thought on “The Genre of Literary Fiction (and Other Oxymorons)

  1. My wife used to say that a pretty dress is a pretty dress, regardless of who designed it, or whose name is on the neck label. And you’re right, as that nice bit above expresses, a good story is a good story. It should be that simple.

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