It’s an oroborus of logic! Eating it’s own tail!
Well, we’ve all heard all those things over and over again from both sides. Genre people saying how Literary folks hate their guts and think they’re lesser fictions. And then you have some sick genre response, saying that literary fiction people are all snobs, and that genre fiction is “fiction of the people” and they like their ripping yarns and that’s that, and why don’t they respect us? It’s like their is a mutual hatred on both sides, through some of the fans, and to be frankly honest it makes those of us who read both and enjoy both to become very conflicted.
I know. I’m conflicted a lot of the time about the whole thing. It’s why you see me throwing up my hands from time to time and claiming I don’t want anything to do with genre ever again. Which, I realize most of the time, is a silly thing, and it’s what I write (or part of what I write) and I should just be okay with it and not care about it. But it’s hard to just ignore it on either side. It’s basically like listening to the Tea Party argue with Democrats. The arguments are all straw man arguments, and this idea of books for snobs and books for the people are silly ones at best.
So I read that article in the New Yorker, and I thought, hey look it that, more of the same. And why oh why when anyone makes this argument on either side, do they always go back and pull out musty old books that aren’t a part of today’s direct conversation? I mean in the New Yorker article it’s a line from Ford Maddox Ford versus a line from Agatha Christie. Yeah, that really speaks to the divide in literature today, good show, all that stuff.
This article seems to ignore the fact that minimalism has been a part of literature for well over half a century now. So that when he goes on and on about how simple and straight to the point and minimal the construction of the Orient Express passages are, you have to wonder, has he even read Hemmingway? Paris was nice this time of year. That’s a simple construction even more straight to the point and no flourish than in any mystery novel. Or Camus, or Sartre, who both wrote with powerful yet simple sentences. Or hey, let’s go straight to the modern day- what about Murakami? What about Tao Lin?
And to go on the otherside of the fence- has he even read Valante? Or Le Guin? Rolling flowing poetic sentences that burst and bubble and strangle and sing. The argument is null. The only divide that exists really truly has nothing to do with plotting plot plot or simple constructions or the fact one has world building and one doesn’t or any of that stuff. It all boils down to one thing: readers and fans and the fact they like to argue and fight and throw balls at each other and scream.
I won’t even get started on Lev Grossman’s response to this (http://entertainment.time.com/2012/05/23/genre-fiction-is-disruptive-technology/). He seems to act like the argument is all one sided and it’s just literature being mean to the poor old genre people. And yet- look at the comments in his article. Genre people are exactly the same way in reverse. They hate those snooty smarty farty types, they do.
And yet, through it all, there is a large number of people that sit in the middle of the divide, watch all this pointless fighting and arguing and they just want to say, “Who cares already? This is all pointless.”