Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Literary vs. Genre?
by Rebecca Cantrell
“Tell us how you feel about genre vs. literary,” says a reassuring voice with a light Viennese accent.
The lights are dim. The Persian rug on the floor is red with an elaborate pattern of what look like flowers. The chaise is oxblood leather.
The patient shifts on the chaise. “I feel fine.”
“Does it make you feel denigrated when someone calls your work genre?” The doctor strokes his pointed beard.
“I’m just happy when someone calls it anything at all. It has genre elements. People die mysteriously. Their murders are investigated and solved. Justice, alas, is complicated.”
“But,” says the doctor. “It is more than that. What about the writing? The voice? The historical background? The themes you try to convey?”
“It has all that too,” the patient says. “Why wouldn’t it?”
“Because it’s genre!” The Viennese voice sounds a little annoyed now.
“Genre doesn’t have to be reductionist.”
“Of course it does!”
“Why?” The patient sits up and adjusts her socks.
“Aren’t you supposed to by lying down where I put you? Answering the questions that I ask you?”
The patient stands and starts doing jumping jacks.
“You must calm down.” The Viennese doctor stands too. He strides behind his desk and watches her nervously. He looks at his telephone, undecided.
“I am calm. I can be calm and do jumping jacks. I can write things that are literary and genre.”
“Read it and weep.”
So, the Viennese doctor puts down his notebooks and pen, adjusts his horn-rimmed glasses and begins to read. He reads through that session and the one after. He reads all afternoon, book after book.
Because, reading can be fun. And unexpected. And anything you want it to be.
So, calm down, do some jumping jacks. Read what you want, call it what you want. The books and the story will endure regardless. Or not.