When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)
Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?
Argh. I hate this literary vs. genre argument with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. I love Fitzgerald (Darcy and I have a serious thing for The Great Gatsby). Love “Shapespeare” as Andrew used to call him. Spent serious time with the Russians (Tolstoy, Pushkin, Chekhov).
I enjoy genre. I enjoy literary and literature. I think it’s important for writers to read outside their comfort zone. If, for no other reason, to understand what it is they don’t like about it and why.
But then, we love absolutes, don’t we? All genre is escapist fluff. All literary is pretentious, tragic, and obscure. All classics are boring. And sure, you could probably find plenty of evidence to support those statements.
And I don’t buy the: I’m busy, so when I read, I want to be entertained. Uh, same here. The way I see it, all fiction (and a great deal of nonfiction) is escapist. If it’s not my reality, then chances are I’m escaping.
Sometimes it is good to grab a comfort read, something you know will make you laugh, or has a guaranteed happy ending. And sometimes, those tougher reads help us make sense of the world, understand why the bad things happen.
As a reader, I need both of those. As a writer, I’d be negligent if I didn’t at least consider all types of writing.
I’ve been called a literary snob for not liking The Da Vinci Code. It wasn’t so much the writing (nothing to uh, write home about), but the topic. Conspiracy. Yawn. Whatev. If I’d been into the subject matter, then I probably would’ve been into the book.
On the flipside, it has also been suggested I’m somewhat less of a writer for choosing to write young adult fiction–that somehow fiction with teen characters aimed at a teen demographic is lacking in all the elements you’d find in adult fiction.
My response: whatev.
So, y’all go fight among yourselves. I’m going to go back to reading whatever happens to appeal to me, despite its label.