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#1
Old 07-18-2007, 07:05 PM
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What are the conventions of "literary" fiction?

So I came across this old post from Ezra Klein's blog where he quotes Nick Hornby, and I had to laugh.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Hornby
Toward the end of the book, Otto and Sophie, the central couple, go to stay in their holiday home. Sophie opens the door to her house and is immediately reminded of a friend, an artist who used to visit them there; she thinks about him for a page or so. The reason she's thinking about him is that she's staring at something he loved, a vinegar bottle shaped like a bunch of grapes. The reason she's staring at the bottle is because it's in pieces. And the reason it's in pieces is because someone has broken in and trashed the place, a fact we only discover when Sophie has snapped out of her reverie. At this point I realized with some regret that not only could I never write a literary novel, but I couldn't even be a character in a literary nobel. I can only imagine myself, or any other character I created, saying, "Shit! Some bastard has trashed the house!" No rumination about artist friends -- just a lot of cursing and some empty threats of violence.
Perfect. Just a perfect description of the literary genre. What I like best is that Hornby isn't whining about the writing style, he's simply commenting that he is incapable of duplicating it in his own writing, and that the characters who inhabit these books act in ways totally foreign to him.

Let's follow Hornby's example and not complain about things here, alright? What would be more interesting is to have a comprehensive list of the standard conventions of contemporary lit-fic. Please note that this does not include older works of genuine literature. I just want a description of relatively recent books that are shelved under the label "Literature", whether or not they'll have any actual staying power in the ages to come.

Not every lit-fic book will use every convention, just as not every SF book has ships with FTL drives. There will be generalizations, and some won't fit. But I think the Doperific audience here can come up with a damn impressive and accurate list. When you list a convention, feel free to provide a short excerpt like Hornby does that exemplifies your suggestion. I'll start it out.

1) No happy endings.
#2
Old 07-18-2007, 07:30 PM
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2)The "everybody is a bastard" novel: Character studies of a group of unlikable people (though not actually antiheroes)

3)The Eco factor: Gratuitous referencing of obscure art, literature, history, etc. The kind of book where the reader needs another book to detail the allusions in the first book. Named after the Italian author Umberto Eco.
#3
Old 07-18-2007, 07:41 PM
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4) Fucked-up sexual relationships. Everyone's fucking everyone for all the wrong reasons. I had a Literature of Trauma class last year and by God, after the quarter I felt like I never wanted to have sex again.
#4
Old 07-18-2007, 11:37 PM
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Wordy, heavy, sometimes turgid prose. Which generally makes, "literature" more difficult to get through than lighter fiction.

Gestalt
#5
Old 07-18-2007, 11:57 PM
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Avoidance of concise, direct description. Everything is described either metaphorically or euphemistically.
#6
Old 07-19-2007, 12:20 AM
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7.) The Novelty Narration Novel (NNN): Though rare, this type of book is always stocked on the "literature" shelf. Dispensing with the standard forms of story telling, these novels rely on non traditional methods. The plot is advanced by 300 pages of fictional e-mails, a series of back and forth letters between two star crossed lovers, ramblings from a political prisoner transcribed from the few scraps of paper he was able to access, or a similar device. This species invariably unfolds the story through a series of small, disjointed missives. Also known as a " Puzzle Piece Plot" (PPP)
#7
Old 07-19-2007, 12:22 AM
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I think that the convention of the "literary" novel is that there are no conventions: it's a non-genre; it's what's left over after all the other movies have had their genres assigned.
#8
Old 07-19-2007, 01:06 AM
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Beautiful, lyrical, descriptive, soaring, penetrating, illuminating prose begging to be savored over and over. Which generally makes "literature" more difficult to get through than lighter fiction, though infinitely more rewarding.
#9
Old 07-19-2007, 01:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Monkey With a Gun
7.) The Novelty Narration Novel (NNN): Though rare, this type of book is always stocked on the "literature" shelf. Dispensing with the standard forms of story telling, these novels rely on non traditional methods. The plot is advanced by 300 pages of fictional e-mails, a series of back and forth letters between two star crossed lovers, ramblings from a political prisoner transcribed from the few scraps of paper he was able to access, or a similar device. This species invariably unfolds the story through a series of small, disjointed missives. Also known as a " Puzzle Piece Plot" (PPP)
I would like to point out that this "non-traditional" form is actually a type of epistolary novel, and was at one point far more popular than the first or third-person single narrative novel. We only think of it as non-traditional nowadays because people don't employ it all that often. I guess I'm trying to say that epistolary novels are a traditional method of telling a story -- I mean, it's been around since the fifteenth century or so.

This might be linked to points two and four, but self-destructive behaviour is rampant. Strung-out druggies, prostitutes without a heart of gold, alcoholism, self-abuse (not the fun kind), etc.

Also, ANGST, with a capital A-N-G-S-T. Why be happy when you can be tormented? Why relax when you're living on borrowed time? Why look at your girlfriend and think she's pretty, when you could think about the girlfriend who was much prettier but killed herself after you knocked her up so she's not so pretty anymore anyway?
#10
Old 07-19-2007, 01:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lissener
I think that the convention of the "literary" novel is that there are no conventions: it's a non-genre; it's what's left over after all the other movies have had their genres assigned.
"movies"? Sheesh. Books.
#11
Old 07-19-2007, 02:25 AM
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Allright, so if we add Nick Hornby's comments from our vintner's (i.e. Kendall Jackson's) OP (it'll be #7), this is what we have for our list of current "literary" conventions so far:

1.) Unhappy endings
2.) Unlikable and/or irredeemable characters
3.) Obscure references
4.) Dysfunctional sexual relationships
5.) Many, many metaphors
6.) Heavy, but sometimes beautiful, prose
7.) ANGST
8.) Decidedly non-everyman thought processes for the characters

And tack on an asterisk for the epistolary sub-genre. (Thanks, Miss McKnittington)

Last edited by armedmonkey; 07-19-2007 at 02:30 AM.
#12
Old 07-19-2007, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase
Beautiful, lyrical, descriptive, soaring, penetrating, illuminating prose begging to be savored over and over. Which generally makes "literature" more difficult to get through than lighter fiction, though infinitely more rewarding.
That'd be nice, but it's more of a rarely-attained ideal than a convention.

Last edited by Baldwin; 07-19-2007 at 07:58 AM.
#13
Old 07-19-2007, 08:32 AM
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The OP's start of "No Happy Endings" was what I first thought of when I saw the thread title. I agree with Exapno's general characterization, but this insistence on No Happy Endings seems to be pretty universal and utterly unnecessary in meeting Exapno's criteria. If there is a happy ending it automatically drops critical reception of a book. I just read how Hemingway said that the natural ending of "Huckleberry Finn" was when Jim ended up in chains -- the rest of the novel, in his opinion, diminished the book. There seems to be a general feeling that Life is Miserable/Unfair/Difficult At Best, and if an author slaps a ha[ppy ending on it he's not acknowledging this fundamental fact, and is merely catering to the masses' desire for a Happy Ending, or betraying his own art. If you want to give an idea of what a Happy Ending will be like, you can always have the character imagine what that ending will be like (although dreaming it is almost as cheap as actually having ity. "It was just a dream" is the domain of hacks), but the early appearance of this false happy ending will clue everyone in that you're simply showing what might have been, and the protagonist is REALLY going to be hit by a ton of reality bricks. Life has to be Miserable to be considered literature.


In real Life, on the other hand, things occasionally do end up with a Happy Resolution that can convincingly be said to round out the events under consideration. It's have to be that way, by statistics alone. Of course, eventually the actors in that drama all die and/or have awful things happen to them. Maybe critics want a sad or indifferent ending because it'll remind them of death.
#14
Old 07-19-2007, 08:57 AM
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Extremely contrived idosyncratic characterizations. The type that would only appear in a novel (That last crust of bread would always make Edward think of that long lost love of his, but he would always shove a little under the fridge for the rats to eat, the lovely rats that are the embodyment of the Buddhist rotation and instability of the Universe, yadayada). Most genre fiction avoids this by either not having idiosyncratic characterizations or just letting the characters be crazy for crazy sake. But the lit novel usually tries to justify it to the readers. Even if it is justification through the thoughts of the characters, these usually just annoy me.
#15
Old 07-19-2007, 09:10 AM
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This often goes along with No Happy Endings and Dysfunctional Sexual Relationships: there are No Happy Families. Characters don't think, "Well, Mom is a little annoying and overbearing, but she does the best she can." No, it's "My mother's sense of frustration with her own repressed life turned her into a monster who foisted her own ambitions onto her children."
#16
Old 07-19-2007, 09:29 AM
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Serious literature is character driven rather than plot driven. In popular genre fiction* you have to keep the plot moving at a snappy (even breakneck) pace, often at the expense of characterization and even plausibility. In literary fiction, the author explores the characters much more deeply, often at the expense of moving the story along, sometimes even forgetting to tell a story at all.

*Is all popular fiction genre fiction? It seems that way to me.
#17
Old 07-19-2007, 09:36 AM
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Another hallmark of Literature:



The Protagonist's Bizarre Scheme or Odd Invention WILL NOT SUCCEED.



Weird mechanical/chemical devices or contrived schemes in anything attempting to be Serious Literature is invariably going to fail. I think such things appear to Serious Witers to be only one step removed from a deus ex machina, and that's even worse than a Contrived Happy Ending. You are allowed to have a character with one crazy idea, or even more, but you canm only use it to illustrate the character's capability for self-delusion and removal from reality. Even if that character is a sympathetic one, this love of and reliance on far-out ideas will only serve to crush his or her spirit later on. Again, if you want to come up with a scene of the scheme or invention succeeding, you can always do it in an extended scene in which this character (or even someone else) only imagines it to be so. But that;s not the same as having it actually happen. (The early appearance of such a scene clues the reader in to how badly things will realy turn out -- the author wouldn't describe this before it will happen, then describe it again when it actually does occur. Dreams of glory invariably presage a catastrophic fall.)

Again, there's no fundamental reason that this has to be the case -- in real life improbable-appearing schemes do sometimes work, and odd inventions often do succeed. And, again, statistically this must invariably be so. But don't do it if you're making a bid for literary success yourself. Charlet Allnut in Forester's "The African Queen" the novel failed miserably. It's only in the movie (with its masses-pleasing Happy Ending) that she blew up the Luisa.
#18
Old 07-19-2007, 09:44 AM
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[Hijack]
Quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Polecat
Serious literature is character driven rather than plot driven. In popular genre fiction* you have to keep the plot moving at a snappy (even breakneck) pace, often at the expense of characterization and even plausibility. In literary fiction, the author explores the characters much more deeply, often at the expense of moving the story along, sometimes even forgetting to tell a story at all.
This is precisely what drives me mad about contemporary literature. I like stories. Most people like stories.

When did this become a requirement for serious literature? Dickens, Hugo, Dumas--stuff happens in their books. When did things stop happening?

[End hijack]
#19
Old 07-19-2007, 09:46 AM
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Pain. Pompous prose. No plot. At times, no character arc, either-just meandering prose that is pure conceit at best and barely disguised navel gazing at worst.

Obscure references to even more obscure tragdies for the most inane things (see convoluted metaphors upthread). Supposed deep undertones and heavy symbolism regarding objects or places (usually the property of the involved characters). People aren't people with problems, but massive forces with maleficent powers over other sad sacks. Sad ending or no ending (no resolution).


And no one ever goes to the grocery store.

Last edited by eleanorigby; 07-19-2007 at 09:48 AM.
#20
Old 07-19-2007, 09:46 AM
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I tend to think that "literary" fiction often avoids any reference to time (though place is often set in stone) in an attempt to produce a work that is "timeless." Which usually comes off, to my mind, as being a bit forced at the very least.



Exapno Mapcase, I'll agree that most literary fiction uses more florid language, but it's not necessary - just look at Hemingway. And, as other posters have mentioned - while you've stated the ideal, not many succeed at it.
#21
Old 07-19-2007, 09:58 AM
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Lonesome Polcat writes:

Quote:
Serious literature is character driven rather than plot driven. In popular genre fiction* you have to keep the plot moving at a snappy (even breakneck) pace, often at the expense of characterization and even plausibility. In literary fiction, the author explores the characters much more deeply, often at the expense of moving the story along, sometimes even forgetting to tell a story at all.
This seems a bit simplistic to me. There's plenty of character-driven genre and pop literature. As I've mentioned in another thread recently, Stephen King frequently seems to have no idea where his story is going, but he loves describing his characters and their state of mind (frequently microsecond by microsecond), and eventually has to forcibly yank the story back onto some sort of track. And he's by no means alone. And many literary works have a well thought-out structure and plan. That's not a hard-and-fast rule by any means.


As for your statement about pop fiction being genre fiction, it ain't necessarily so. Again, Twain's Huckleberry Finn is now seen as The Great American Novel, and has been praised to the skies over and over (even if Hemingway would excise the damned Happy Ending), but it was written and released as Popular Fiction, and was condemned when it first came out as "trash", scorned by Louisa May Alcott as unworthy, and banned by the Concord MA public library. Is Charles Dickens "literary"? I maintain that he was as popular and contriving as Stephen King in his day. James Fenimore Cooper, too. John Steinbeck's stuff is surely "literary", but it's been very popular ever since it was published.
#22
Old 07-19-2007, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
Lonesome Polcat writes:



This seems a bit simplistic to me. There's plenty of character-driven genre and pop literature. As I've mentioned in another thread recently, Stephen King frequently seems to have no idea where his story is going, but he loves describing his characters and their state of mind (frequently microsecond by microsecond), and eventually has to forcibly yank the story back onto some sort of track. And he's by no means alone. And many literary works have a well thought-out structure and plan. That's not a hard-and-fast rule by any means.


As for your statement about pop fiction being genre fiction, it ain't necessarily so. Again, Twain's Huckleberry Finn is now seen as The Great American Novel, and has been praised to the skies over and over (even if Hemingway would excise the damned Happy Ending), but it was written and released as Popular Fiction, and was condemned when it first came out as "trash", scorned by Louisa May Alcott as unworthy, and banned by the Concord MA public library. Is Charles Dickens "literary"? I maintain that he was as popular and contriving as Stephen King in his day. James Fenimore Cooper, too. John Steinbeck's stuff is surely "literary", but it's been very popular ever since it was published.
I see what you're saying and even pretty much agree. However, I think the OP is talking about contemporary "serious" literature which is self-consciously literary, the sort of thing people read when they want to impress themselves and others with their sophisticated taste in literature.

Ain't sayin' there's no such thing as good literary fiction, but let's face it. A lot of that stuff is pretentious tripe.
#23
Old 07-19-2007, 10:55 AM
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Could we have some examples of "literary" fiction, please? I'd like to know what books you're talking about.
#24
Old 07-19-2007, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LonesomePolecat
Serious literature is character driven rather than plot driven. In popular genre fiction* you have to keep the plot moving at a snappy (even breakneck) pace, often at the expense of characterization and even plausibility. In literary fiction, the author explores the characters much more deeply, often at the expense of moving the story along, sometimes even forgetting to tell a story at all.

*Is all popular fiction genre fiction? It seems that way to me.
This is one distinction that I've seen before, even if not everyone agrees with it. For example, from Wikipedia:
Quote:
Literary fiction is a term that has come into common usage since around 1970, principally to distinguish 'serious' fiction (that is, work with claims to literary merit) from the many types of genre fiction and popular fiction. In broad terms, literary fiction focuses more on style, psychological depth, and character, whereas mainstream commercial fiction (the 'pageturner') focuses more on narrative and plot.
By some people's definition, Nick Hornby's novels are literary fiction (maybe even literary fiction at its best). They focus on characters and themes, not on action. They're well and carefully written from a use-of-language point of view. They're "serious": they deal with real psychological and interpersonal issues and are meant to be read thoughtfully, not consumed and forgotten. They're not genre fiction. And, what really clinches it for me, they're not available as mass-market paperbacks.
#25
Old 07-19-2007, 11:07 AM
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scuirophobic, for the snarky answer I'd suggest that you check out books reviewed in the NY Review of Books.
#26
Old 07-19-2007, 11:44 AM
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I'd add "ambiguous ending" to your list of conventions. If it's obvious what happened at the end, or what it meant, it's not completely literary.

And Thudlow (may I call you Thudlow?), for the record, some "literary fiction" does go to mass market paperback, if it's popular enough. Example - Life of Pi by Yann Martel. (which I liked and recommend. I usually like linear, easy to follow - meaning non-literary I guess - books, but I really liked this.)
#27
Old 07-19-2007, 02:02 PM
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Everyone here should read A Reader's Manifesto, in which B. R. Myers dissects the prose of some of the more prolific practitioners of literary fiction (DeLillo, Proulx, McCarthy, Auster, and Guterson) and champions what he views as the far better, clearer writing of older authors such as Bellow, Conrad, Hemingway, and Twain.

It's a very fun read even if you like the authors he's savaging.
#28
Old 07-19-2007, 03:19 PM
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China Mieville talks about what we're talking about as mimetic fiction--that is, stories that take place in a world very like the world we live in, absent anything magical or mythological. He points out that in the tradition of human storytelling, mimetic fiction is a distinct minority genre.

Obviously not all literary fiction is mimetic, but enough of it is that I think we can put it forward as a conceit of the genre.

Another trait that goes alongside no happy families and no happy sex: no stable marriages, at least not for the protagonists. These books tend to be obsessed with the failures of relationships.

And another one: villains are rare.

Daniel
#29
Old 07-19-2007, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase
Beautiful, lyrical, descriptive, soaring, penetrating, illuminating prose begging to be savored over and over. Which generally makes "literature" more difficult to get through than lighter fiction, though infinitely more rewarding.
I disagree that this is a trait of literary fiction, unless you're defining the term idiosyncratically or in a circular argument. There's plenty of fiction considered literary whose prose is pretentious, ponderous, and pompous; there's plenty of genre fiction whose prose is pure poetry. All writing should aspire to great prose, in my opinion, not just the writing in the literary genre.

I should add that I think Cormac McCarthy is brilliant, and have been utterly captivated by his novels. There's nothing inherently wrong with the literary genre, and people can do incredible work within it.

Daniel
#30
Old 07-19-2007, 03:53 PM
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One thing that I often notice (but of course I can't think of any good examples now) in literary fiction is that symbols can be genetic. In stories about families, you'll see images and themes recur from one generation to the next, and many times it is only the reader who sees the repetition, not the characters themselves. I always get a kick out of this.
#31
Old 07-19-2007, 04:03 PM
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There's a quote from Kurt Vonnegut—actually he's quoting his friend, graphic artist Saul Steinberg—that may or may not be relevant here: "There are two sorts of artists, one not being in the least superior to the other. But one responds to the history of his or her art so far, and the other responds to life itself."

I suspect that many writers of literary (as opposed to popular) fiction are of the first sort, and that to properly appreciate their work, you also have to have some familiarity with the history of their art so far. I.e., they're writing for other writers and literary critics, not for the common reader who doesn't care how their work fits into the grand History of Literature.
#32
Old 07-19-2007, 10:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sciurophobic
Could we have some examples of "literary" fiction, please? I'd like to know what books you're talking about.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kendall Jackson
I just want a description of relatively recent books that are shelved under the label "Literature", whether or not they'll have any actual staying power in the ages to come.
That's it. Look at a list of Pulitzer prize winners, and you'll get a list of the very best of these books and their authors. Read enough of them, and patterns should emerge. I think I have a couple new ones that we've missed so far.

9) Long philosophical digressions

10) The setting is the here and now

More clear conventions of the genre, it seems to me. I have a very strong feeling that any doubters of these "literary" conventions just haven't looked carefully enough. If the goal of lit-fic is to be outside every other genre, then I would guess most of them obviously fail. How could they be outside genre, when so many of them ape all of the others in so many ways? Take #10, that almost all the newly published books shelved under the "literature" heading in bookstores are about the present-time and real places. Sometimes you get one set in the not-too-distant future, like David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, but I don't think you'd ever get a book set 10,000 years from now. Cormac McCarthy might be an important exception (e.g. Blood Meridian, which is a historical novel, and The Road, set in the not-too-distant-but-nevertheless-post-apocalyptic future; this second book is incidentally one of the first science-fiction Pulitzer Prize winners, though it isn't shelved with sci-fi and fantasy). He seems to be a rarity, though.

And, as Baldwin notes, it might be accurate to claim that the goal of lit-fic is "Beautiful, lyrical, descriptive, soaring, penetrating, illuminating prose begging to be savored over and over", but I doubt Exapno, with his experience in the industry, would dare assert that most of the books shelved under "literature" actually achieve this goal. I'd say lit-fic books have a higher batting-average here than "genre fiction" books do, but it seems a bit much to characterize it as a convention. On preview, I notice that Mr. Mapcase's post was a response to Gestalt's, and might've been a bit tongue in cheek.

So to try to head off squabbling: I think it's better to have dispassionate descriptions of the genre instead of criticisms. This
Quote:
Originally Posted by eleanorigby
Pain. Pompous prose. No plot. At times, no character arc, either-just meandering prose that is pure conceit at best and barely disguised navel gazing at worst.
isn't helpful. I'm sure plenty of lit-fic books could be accurately described as painful and pompous, but there's also a lot of beautiful stuff, too, even if you don't like the style. As I asked in the OP, let's keep the complaints out of this.

I kinda like the idea behind Dorkness's "mimetic" idea, but I don't think that it's entirely accurate. The convention of the unhappy ending in lit-fic weighs pretty heavily against it being an accurate reflection of reality. Sometimes things work out for the best in the real world, but you probably wouldn't know it from reading most of these books. Even the observation that everyone must eventually die isn't such a downer unless you're naturally pessimistic enough to treat it that way. And frankly, there are lots of rules for narratives that simply don't correspond too well to reality. Still, calling these books "mimetic" instead of "literary" appeals to me. The ostensible goal is to reflect reality, but they never quite get there.

My goal in all this, by the way, is to start comparing the list of conventions we make with any actual "literary" (or "mimetic") books I read to see how well these characterizations of ours actually hold up. I think that any fair study would thoroughly obliterate any suggestions that these works somehow dodge genre conventions, but it's worth testing first hand now that I have more reading time available than I did before.

I think it'll be a pleasant exercise.
#33
Old 07-20-2007, 01:16 AM
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I was thinking about this today, and the question of setting entered my mind. We've already covered the time aspect of it (generally not historical), but what about place? Are the settings overwhelmingly urban or do they also take place in more rural areas? North America or elsewhere?

I have the feeling that setting (place) isn't too terribly important -- the setting in Life of Pi is amorphous, to say the least. Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells (same woman who wrote Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, but Little Altars is magnitudes better, and both are much better than that movie) ranges from 1950s Louisiana to 1990s New York City. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich jumps all over the 20th century, but is mostly focused on an Indian reservation in South Dakota. OK, so those are all non-urban settings. I'm having trouble of thinking of some books with urban settings -- The Secret History isn't really rural, but it's not exactly urban, either.

Which raises another question. Most of what I've read in this, er, genre has been compilations of short stories -- Little Altars and Love Medicine, for example. They both show characteristics of what we've seen here (dysfunctional relationships/family, substance abuse, etc.), but do anthologies belong with a discussion of novels?

And does something like Love Medicine count or is that another genre altogether? I've seen it shelved in literary fiction, Native American studies (despite being fiction), and strangely women's fiction. Are Rebecca Wells' works lit or women's fiction?

And can something like A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius be included? I guess it's technically a memoir, but portions of it are fiction/exaggerated. How does that come into play when playing these genre games?

And are the examples here I've listed along the lines of what everybody else was thinking?
#34
Old 07-20-2007, 10:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kendall Jackson
I kinda like the idea behind Dorkness's "mimetic" idea, but I don't think that it's entirely accurate. The convention of the unhappy ending in lit-fic weighs pretty heavily against it being an accurate reflection of reality.
That's an interesting point and definitely true, but that's not what I meant by "real-world." Implausibility is fine; what's not fine in most of these books is impossibility. You can have the strange delightful or horrific coincidence. You can't have the ghost, the god, the goblin.

Again, this isn't true across the board. Magical realism is generally considered to be fine literature, and this standard has nothing to do with magical realism. It only applies to the mimetic tradition within literary literature.

Daniel
#35
Old 07-21-2007, 05:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LonesomePolecat
Serious literature is character driven rather than plot driven. In popular genre fiction* you have to keep the plot moving at a snappy (even breakneck) pace, often at the expense of characterization and even plausibility. In literary fiction, the author explores the characters much more deeply, often at the expense of moving the story along, sometimes even forgetting to tell a story at all.

*Is all popular fiction genre fiction? It seems that way to me.
Damn I was going to make that point.
#36
Old 07-21-2007, 05:19 AM
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Location: perfidious albion
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An obscure title that seems to have nothing at all to do with the story gives the book a good head start towards getting an award andthey quite often have very little in the way of background or description.

Off topic but thought Id mention it, if your writing a Sword and Sorcery you MUST put in plenty of titles made up from two other words.
I.E. Craglord,Seaspear,Caverealm,Homeguard,Dickhead. etc.
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