Fallacy #1: Literary fiction/mainstream fiction writers hate genre fiction. This is so commonly heard in certain parts that one begins to accept it as a matter of fact without thinking much about it. Which writers? A few here and there, no different in size and number than fantasy/SF writers who dismiss realist fiction? Is it representative of thousands upon thousands of writers across the globe? Of course not. If you want to see how ridiculous this claim is, insert an ethnic/religious minority into the lit fic role and put the ethnic/religious minority into the second. Or you could just flip them about as best suits you. See how ridiculous that sort of generalization sounds?
Fallacy #2: Genre fiction has produced more "literature" than has literary fiction. Let me quote from a recent tweet sent by someone working for a major UK publisher:
Plenty of genre fic becomes Literature (Dickens) courtesy of posterity. Lit fic not old enough as a genre to have examples of the opposite?Sounds all nice and good for the audience (I almost responded at the time, but I knew I wanted to devote more than 140 characters to this. I also am withholding more specific information, since I think this is not just the opinion of one person, but of several people who are active in genre discussions), but can it be disproved?
Well, there's Saul Bellow for starters. Likely Charles Bukowski. Most of Norman Mailer's works. Pat Barker appears to be well on her way. Truman Capote and Harper Lee for certain. That's just off the top of my head. Still puzzled how Dickens is being claimed as "genre fiction," however, which I suppose leads to the next fallacy.
Fallacy #3: Only the most narrow of prose styles can be classified as "literary fiction." This fallacy is a natural conclusion to those who want to claim unto themselves virtually every single work of enjoyable fiction as being "genre fiction," until only a tiny remnant of works which they either do not understand nor care to like are excluded. It really is a silly, silly argument. For the life of me, I just cannot picture the vast majority of Dickens' works, concerned as they are with 19th century social problems or with the people of those times and backgrounds, having much in common, besides the English language, with the works of Terry Goodkind. Methinks some are just overreaching in their desire to have their preferred reading be more desirable than other literary genres.
Fallacy #4: Literary fiction is only concerned with bourgeois concerns. Although there is some truth to this, only so far as there being several novels each year as being marketed to such audiences, there's a much wider range. One only has to look at the past year's National Book Award and Booker Prize finalists to see that.
Fallacy #5: Lit fiction writers do not care for genre fiction. If that were the case, then I would imagine that the very warm reception I received from several lit journals when I queried for reading materials for Best American Fantasy 4 would have never happened. It is rather telling that a sizable percentage of those who responded here or elsewhere to August's announcement regarding BAF's discontinuance were those most usually associated as "literary fiction" writers and editors. I think a more pertinent question would be "Do core genre fiction writers/editors/publishers/fans care much for writers in other fields?"
Fallacy #6: Fans know how to argue the dynamics commonly found in disparate styles of fiction. We don't. Even those of us who've had some training and experience in doing so ought to be very cautious in doing so. The pressures put upon writers to change certain elements to suit better certain perceived market audiences differs from subgenre to subgenre and it would be wise not to pardon writers in one field for what they have to do and not consider what writers in another field have to do in order to have their works become successful.
Fallacy #7: Everything I say is the gospel truth. I could be very wrong, you know. Are you certain you are not mistaken as well?