Posts Tagged: genre fiction

The Rumpus Book Club Chat with Michael Helm

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The Rumpus Book Club chats with Michael Helm about his new novel After James, the line between paranoia and caution, and the use of poetry as a plot device. ...more

All That We Could Do with This Emotion

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Writing for the Guardian, novelist Val McDermid disputes the recent study which suggests that “literary” fiction readers are more empathetic than “genre” readers:

There is no doubt that, historically, there was a valid distinction. Nobody would attempt to suggest that there is an equivalence between Agatha Christie and Virginia Woolf.

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Beyond the Surface

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At the Guardian, Alison Flood wonders whether or not genre writing, particularly romance writing, is primarily “rubbish.” In her investigation, she points out how assumptions are often made about the “surface” elements of genre works and cites literary novels that have used the conventions of genre while maintaining their literariness.

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The Rumpus Interview with Victor LaValle

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Victor LaValle discusses his latest book, The Ballad of Black Tom, patience, H.P. Lovecraft, and reinvention. ...more

The Rumpus Interview with Keith Lee Morris

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Keith Lee Morris discusses his latest book Traveler’s Rest, Lewis and Clark, and how writing a novel about dreams requires much more than sleep. ...more

The Rumpus Interview with Lori Rader-Day

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Lori Rader-Day discusses her second novel, Little Pretty Things, the “five lost years” when she didn’t write at all, and her favorite deep-dish pizza. ...more

Detecting Genre

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Like a detective novel, these books are characterized by a central mystery and the process of detection that leads to solving that mystery. The mystery, however, is not a crime—it’s a life. A person, usually only tangentially related to the subject (the latter is often deceased), becomes engrossed in the discovery of this person’s life, and in the best of the genre we also discover more about the detective’s self along the way.

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Vernon Reid Digs James Baldwin

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At Esquire, sci-fi author Jeff VanderMeer and Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid discuss genre fiction, and how one art form can inspire another. Reid says:

Fiction has always evoked pictures and provoked ideas and sounds in my mind. James Baldwin, who was a powerful writer of fiction and non-fiction was a haunted witness of American dysfunction.

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The Rise of the Mega-Novel

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Serial novels are nothing new, especially in genre fiction designed to keep readers shelling out money for the next phase of a story. But the sudden, rapid success of fantasy genre series like George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones and the adaptation of Tolkien’s hobbit epics to the big screen has meant publishers want to cash in on the double-XL titles.

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How to Harlequin

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Over at Jezebel, Kelly Faircloth shares a fantastic long form piece on the rise of the Harlequin romance novel, and how the brand became synonymous with a wildly lucrative if critically dismissed genre. From the original formula for woman-centered, alpha-male page turners to Harlequin’s relentless advertising tactics to the question of exactly how much sex sells best, Faircloth presents a sociological study.

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Here There (May or May Not) Be Dragons

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Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel The Buried Giant has reignited debates about genre fiction following Ishiguro’s implication that the work isn’t fantasy. The author has since clarified which side he’s really on. Meanwhile, Flavorwire‘s Jonathon Sturgeon defends Ishiguro’s right to call the book whatever he wants:

To use some of Le Guin’s own logic: we still live under capitalism, and the concept of genre is still tied to marketing.

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If It Quacks like a Dragon

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Kazuo Ishiguro insists his new novel, The Buried Giant, is not a fantasy novel. Laura Miller at Salon agrees. Ursula K. Le Guin does not (and is a little insulted). David Barnett at The Guardian doesn’t care either way and instead sees Ishiguro’s novel as an opportunity:

Why not throw open the gates, tear down the walls, and when literary authors appropriate the tropes of genre, see it not as an insult but as a good thing, something that potentially allows us to be evangelical about the books we love to a whole new audience?

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Sci-Fi Tide Sweeps through China

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Science fiction is a growing force on the Chinese literary landscape now that government scrutiny of the genre has loosened up, according to a recent article in the Times. The English publication of Liu Cixin’s The Three Body Problem, following the inclusion of several of the author’s stories in the prestigious People’s Literature journal in 2012, serve as evidence of a growing readership.

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Been Here Before

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After years of anxious separation, people are finally relaxing about the literary/genre fiction divide. Over at Electric Literature, Tobias Carroll asks: now what?

We’re now well into a period where literary writers are able to balance their love for horror (or science fiction, or fantasy) with their craft, and fewer and fewer bat an eye…But now that we’ve gotten past that, there’s another question raised by fiction that falls into the realm of, for lack of a more graceful term, literary horror: how does it deal with our expectations of both of its literary forebears?

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Ladies Are Taking Over Crime

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Laura Miller opines that male-authored crime novels are a bit too predictable. Instead…

 I’ve found instead that the crime novels I open with the keenest anticipation these days are almost always by women. These are books that trespass the established boundaries of their genre, adding a dash — or more than a dash — of fabulism, or lingering over characters who used to serve as the mere furniture of the old-style hard-boiled fiction.

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The Lost Pulp of Gore Vidal

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Before he became an acclaimed novelist and political commentator, Gore Vidal was just a guy trying to make ends meet. Under three different pseudonyms, Vidal wrote a romance novel, three mysteries, and a crime thriller. Now, over 50 years later,  Thieves Fall Out, a pulp novel set during the 1952 Egyptian Revolution, is being re-issued, this time with Vidal’s name on the cover.

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The Theory of Trickle-Up Literacy

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One does not pass from lower to higher. On the contrary one might perfectly well fall from the higher to the lower, or simply read both, as many people eat both good food and junk food, the only problem being that the latter can be addictive; by constantly repeating the same gratifying formula (the litmus test of genre fiction) it stimulates and satisfies a craving for endless sameness, to the point that the reader can well end up spending all the time he has available for reading with exactly the same fare.

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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In the Sunday Interview, Anna March talks with Robin Black about her debut novel, Life Drawing. Black—who also received acclaim for her short story collection, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This—begins by discussing her approach to writing character.

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Delving Head-First into Wonder

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Often times readers dismiss graphic novels as too unrealistic to posses literary merit. That would be a mistake, argues Stefan A. Slater at The Airship, because reality isn’t inherently part of good story telling. Plenty of other fictional forms flaunt the rules of the naturalistic universe while retaining literary value, and graphic novels often contain strong narratives confronting contemporary issues:

A good story is meant to transport.

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