Say hello to literary fiction:
This is Hemingway; Dickens; Thackeray; Melville; Dostoyevsky; Shelley; Hawthorne; Wilde ; Joyce; and a bunch of other people whose books have become the gospel of literature. When folks talk about literary merit they are referring to the novels and short stories which have won the acclaim of critics.
Repeat that? Won the acclaim of critics? Boy…they must be skilled–hard enough time it is to work a compliment out of them on a piece of popular fiction…mainstream.
Allow me to introduce popular fiction:
This is King; Koontz; Rice; Rowling; Straub; Dickens–he’s a special guy–and the names written on the novels advertised on the shelves at Wal-Mart. They are good stories: each one–not every one–has well constructed characters and conflicts. Their entertainment value is never-ending.
According to literary fiction…popular fiction is trash; it is crap.
That teen vampire novel you finished reading? Crap.
Every dystopian young adult series, excluding The Giver? Crap.
The wonderful wizarding world of the boy who lived? Crap.
Anything not written with symbolism, profound themes, and/or meaningfulness in relation to this whirling torpedo we call life is utter crap; as somewhere along the literary historical timeline one person set a divider between the world of entertainment and the world of meaning.
But the popular writers have their two-bit, as well: apparently all literary writers are snobs who care for nothing but the works which inspire in them eternal meaning–I have used that word a lot; but it is the premise of many a good piece of literature. They like commenting on how those writers never frequent their genres…save for a good laugh at its quality.
The separation is uncanny. Can we not write together?
[Commence playing Why Can’t We Be Friends? by War]
You should; however notice I never said unbreakable divider.
We are all writers here. We are all chasing after ideas–sometimes those ideas can be considered insane; take Poe for instance, he was a creative genius with some questionable ideas. And we have all dreamed of seeing that brilliant letter declaring our acceptance into the publishing realm.
I see it as two children bickering on the playground. The one with the wide rimmed glasses and dress pants is insulting the child wearing Hammer pants and mismatched socks; and the Hammer pants child is criticizing the effort at tidiness taken by the other. Such a battle has no worth to sustain its longevity. Let the kid wear his darn Hammer pants; sure they went out of the style in the 80s, but Shakespeare has been out since the Renaissance.
Put simply: we need to move past those artificial barriers and focus on the real reason for writing, which, as we all know, is enjoyment. We need to go to our writing sanctuaries and write because we love doing so; and then perhaps the desire to criticize will be drowned out by quiet restfulness.
While all books are not to be read under the same light, all books should be read.