Genre Fiction, Literary Fiction, The Revolution of Brains
I was going to write a long piece about this thing here, by Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians, which is a book of which I liked about 60%. The piece is about how genre fiction is more than just escapism, there’s psychological merit to fantasy fiction et cetera and so forth.
But the more I think about it, the more I don’t get why anyone would bother.
GUYS. Genre distinctions are for librarians and bookstore clerks. You use them to group together books that are kind of like each other so they’re easier to find.
If you READ books, then the only two distinctions that matter are: Interesting Stuff and Dumb Stuff. And really, there’s no hard distinction; books that challenge you, that improve your intellect in some way, that give you new perspectives and ideas…those are Interesting Stuff. Interesting books have a large apportionment of Interesting Stuff. Dumb books don’t.
Up, down, period, the end. Everything else — fantasy (and its distinctions: epic, high, urban, &c), science fiction (likewise hard sci fi, space opera, space cowboy TV shows that probably would have dropped off in their second seasons), mystery, horror, “Young Adult” novels, Books by Michael Chabon, ET CETERA AND SO FORTH, it’s all hokum.
The thing of it is, the reason that Epic Fantasy — for example — the reason that people think that’s a dumb genre that’s not improving in any way, or whatnot, it’s not because there’s something implicitly not interesting about Epic Fantasy. It’s because it’s all the fucking same.
What the hell is this, oof, nevermind, I don’t even care that much. Lev Grossman, sometimes I don’t even KNOW man.