Fwd: Re: Byatt on Potter

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Mon Jul 14 23:59:56 EDT 2003

On Sat, 12 Jul 2003 22:37:19 +0100, minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:

>Melissa wrote:
>>A friend of mine suggested once
>>that while fantasy/SF/genre fiction is about answering the question posed,
>>literary fiction is about phrasing the question correctly.  If he's right,
>>then that means it takes a completely different kind of reading to
>>appreciate such fiction.
>Is there anything about deciding which questions are worth posing, I wonder?

I imagine that comes down to the individual.  The author writes about what
he chooses; the reader decides which writings are relevant to her.  And on
some level the publisher decides which are going to sell copies.  So
ultimately you have books which some people embrace and others despise.  But
just like in the fantasy or SF genres, certain works of literary fiction are
widely admired/read and others reach only a niche market.  What literary
novelists fail to recognize is that theirs is a genre just like all the
others.  Many of them (and many critics) perceive such books as "true"
literature and everything else as "genre."  It may take a completely
different kind of reading--there's far more crossover of readers of fantasy
and SF and mystery and historical and thrillers than there is between
literary fiction and any of the above--but one can still identify the
defining characteristics which must be present in order for a book to
qualify as literary.

Anyway, I'm going to take a crack at Tracy Chevalier's _Girl With a Pearl
Earring_.  Just as soon as I read about ten other *real* books.  :)

Melissa Proffitt

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