Friday, March 02, 2007

Genre Fiction vs Literary Fiction...

I don’t have many more interesting things to say about the Oscars. I love them for the pomp, pretty dresses and the annual pat on the back for an industry who really doesn’t need any more pats on the back.

But I also know they don’t usually give the Oscar to the best picture of the year. The best example I can think of this is when Forrest Gump beat out Pulp Fiction for best picture. Or Roberto Benigni beating out Edward Norton for best actor. Sometimes the choices haven’t made sense to me. But, it's all subjective.

I have no literary aspirations, none. I’m interested solely in telling entertaining, engrossing stories and in my over simplistic approach, that’s how I assess everything. To me the best in literary fiction and in genre fiction tells a fascinating story with engrossing characters.

Books like the Poisonwood Bible, Fall on Your Knees, The Lovely Bones and so many more I could list, all tell amazing stories. The best in genre fiction, be it Stephen King, Michael Connelly or Susan Elizabeth Phillips, also all tell amazing stories, and hey look, they’re bestsellers.

I’m sure there are some wonderful literary authors who write incredible books who toil in mid list obscurity, as well as some amazing genre authors, but great stories connect with a wide range of people and subsequently sell a lot of books.

So to the literary author who grouses they don’t get the sales or publicity of a Stephen King, I say write a better story.

Simple, but that's what genre writers know, that perhaps Literary authors are still trying to figure out..


Maureen McGowan said...

Great post, Sinead. It is all about the story. Pretty words are nice, but they don't necessarily pull you through a book.

Molly O'Keefe said...

oh my god yet another example of the total clear cut differences between us Sinead -- I think Forrest Gump was the better movie. I love Pulp Fiction -- it's iconic and smart and brash and exciting but Tarentino is all style to me. You watch it for him and the thumb print of his directing and writing. Forrest Gump was just really good story telling.

great post -- I think those authors that find that mix between literary and popular are the authors that change some of the world - or make something new. I think Gregory Maguire is that way at least with Wicked - Micheal Chabon does that for me -- Tracey Chevalier with Girl with a Pearl Earring. They managed to bring something really new and interesting to the table in a way accessed by millions.

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