The OF Blog: Defining tastes, modes, or whatever the hell you want to call it

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Defining tastes, modes, or whatever the hell you want to call it

So there's some discussion of sorts going on at Ecstatic Days about the bizarreness of trying to define that ever nebulous "literary fiction." Jeff VanderMeer makes some good points about the posts written by J.M. McDermott and yours truly, although I could note that in my original post I was more concerned with noting that the narrative mode called "literary fiction" is more inclusive and outward-looking than what McDermott seemed to be implying when he was decrying what he had endured reading by one particular writer.

I guess I should reiterate what I said over there about how I see the entire fiction "divide" as being little more than the arguing of picayune points in a much larger, "important" field of material culture (yes, I'm influenced by Thompsonian Marxists. Bite me). Namely, all that societies create to address particular concerns is fair game and that classifications serve as a way of viewing how said societies and their members go about organizing data and assigning meanings. But that's just boring cultural history stuff, no?

For another take on "literary fiction" (and a host of other things), here's a recent videotaped interview with R. Scott Bakker. Around the 2 minute mark, he starts talking about "literary fiction," giving it a social definition with which I disagree quite strongly:

With any luck, Terry Goodkind will be asked to share his thoughts on "literary fiction" and whether or not his writings are "fantasy" or "thrillers" in nature...

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