I have been thinking of this topic quite a bit this week. After all we are all genre writers here. Aren't we. So what does that mean for the literary works we might squeeze out from time to time. I have done it, had them published even. I know several of you have done the same thing. So what does it mean? Anything?
I don't think so. Genre is usually bound by the rules set by the reader. If the reader thinks it is horror, science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, thriller. . .it is. No questions asked. If it can't be classified as any of these, or is focused more on the character than the plot (sorry literary writers out there, I had a professor use those exact words about literary works) then you have a literary work. Character makes great literature and plot is born from conflict. I could probably whittle down most literary works into a genre if you really wanted me to but the snooty professors and academia will throw me into a kettle of boiling oil for tarnishing their beloved works. Let me show you what I mean.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens- Ghost story. Ghosts are the stuff of horror but still considered a literary work worthy of serious discussion.
Beloved by Toni Morrison- Ghost story. Still didn't stop Oprah from using it in her book club and making a really bad movie about it.
Moby Dick- Herman Mellville. Adventure/thriller. One of the most boring books I have ever made it through.
The Immoralist- Andre Gide. Erotica. Disguised as a serious literary discussion this is really no better than many penthouse forums in its subject matter.
As I lay Dying- William Faulkner. Horror. There is more discussion of death and the rotting of body parts here than almost any story I have read by King.
The awakening- Kate Chopin. Romance. It is a sexual awakening people. The author wasn't even trying to cover that up very well.
I could go on but you get the idea. All of the genre's are really just literary themes that have been indulged upon. This is another reason I don't take 'literary' fiction that seriously. Even Shakespeare had fun with bones, witches, ghosts, fairies, death, and suicide.
In an aside, and to show you that 'genre' fiction is worthy of discussion in academia I took classes in Science Fiction Literature (English 240) Iowa State University (ISU), Gothic Literature (English 3470) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), Native American Literature (don't recall the number) UNO, Woman's literature (again, I don't recall the number) UNO, Children's Literature (English 296) ISU. I could go on, but it has been 15 years for many of these classes and I took more literature classes than most of the English majors so I have just plain forgotten some of them.
Isn't it nice to know that we are all just literary writers, just more indulgent than most.
Have a great Friday and a glorious weekend.