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Literary Gentrification?

I’ve heard that it has become a trend for literary fiction writers to cross into the seedy darkness of genre fiction. Literary fiction writers appear to be jumping, en masse, into genres like thriller, crime, science fiction, post-apoc, etc.

5 months ago

Latest Post Some Thoughts on Writing Web Serials by G. Michael Rapp public

I’ve heard that it has become a trend for literary fiction writers to cross into the seedy darkness of genre fiction. Literary fiction writers appear to be jumping, en masse, into genres like thriller, crime, science fiction, post-apoc, etc. This is odd, especially for those who have observed the artificial bifurcation between literary and genre fiction. Literary fiction writers claim that genre fiction is formulaic, crude, and relies on cheap tricks like archetypical characterization, readily available tropes, fantastical or impossible plot devices, and so on. Genre fiction is the vulgar garbage of the masses. It is comfortable and easy to read. It does not challenge the status quo. It fails to experiment in form, characterization, language, content, etc.–or so literary fiction writers want to tell us. Literary fiction writers may be correct in pointing out these flaws. Genre fiction has a tendency of sticking with safer, more conservative writing techniques and content. This position reflects the politico-economics of the genre fiction market. However, literary fiction often lacks mass appeal, readability, and availability. This makes literary fiction a place where few members of the larger reading public dare to venture. Nevertheless, it will be exciting to see where this new trend will take literary and genre fiction. Maybe we will see smarter, fresher, and more experimental genre fiction? This trend could very well push (good) literary fiction into the public limelight, allowing readers to discover little known works by those literary fiction writers who have stepped into genre fiction. If the idea behind the recent foray into genre fiction is to elevate it by giving it a bit of sophistication and polish, then we have a problem. This project will no longer be about refreshing current modes of storytelling and pushing past the status quo and the familiar. It’ll become a form of literary gentrification. We might as well stick to the artificial demarcation currently situated between literary and genre fiction.

G. Michael Rapp

Published 5 months ago

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