10.02.2006

Monday Miscellaneous

Yikes! I have an Amazon wishlist for family and friends to purchase presents for me from for holidays (I detest any presents that aren't books, except for maybe from my husband because he actually knows what I'd want outside of books). It has a double purchase, one, it ensures I actually get something I Want and Like for holidays versus the sweaters that I'd never wear except when visiting the person who bought it for me and also every holiday season (around December) the Rape Crisis Center I volunteer for gets a part of the sales from Amazon.com if the buyer clicks a certain link to get to Amazon.com that I (and others associated with the Rape Crisis Center) email out to all family and friends. Anyways, today my wishlist just got over 80 books (82 to be exact)... holy cow, I don't know how I'll ever get all of those books, especially when I just keep adding to it. I also rank the books so people know which ones I Really want, I'm thinking I mine-as-well just delete the books ranked "low" and "lowest" because I don't know if I'll ever make it to those on the list! And keep in mind, I have roughly 50 books at home that I've already purchased that I have yet to read. Yikes. Who finds the time in the day to read that much? I'd love to, but time seems to slip away from me until I'm wiped out and just want to go to bed. Usually I force myself to read at least a couple of pages before I go to bed, no matter how tired I am, but some nights it's hard. I'm nervous about going back to school for my pleasure reading, other than the summers where I was a reading fiend, during the school year pleasure reading was an after thought since I had so much academic reading to do. Ah well, someday perhaps all the books will be bought from my Amazon.com wishlist, only to be replaced with others I'm sure!

A really interesting post on Edward Champion's Return of the Reluctant about genre bashing. It is more widely known for literary folks to be snobs when it comes to genres, but Ed has experienced it the other way around during his attendance of the Bouchercon conference this past weekend. It's interesting to me because even though I mostly read literary fiction, it's not that I'm opposed towards any genre, just the cookie cutter, formula novels which could really be in any genre. I've read many different genres in my life and enjoyed all of them. I grew up borrowing my brother's many fantasy books and loving them, though not as much as he did. I've definitely read some thriller/mystery novels that I've really enjoyed such as some James Patterson and Dean Koontz's Intensity and I enjoyed those reads immensely, often ripping through the pages with my heart pounding and I intend to get more into that particular genre because of the absolute warmth and generosity in friendship I've received from the Killer Year writers. I've become addicted to many of their blogs and find them intelligent, compassionate, interesting and often funny! I've even gotten to read some snippets from their soon-to-be released novels and have enjoyed their writing. However, I must admit, I definitely read literary fiction by far the most and the majority of the time. Is this because literary fiction is "better"? Not at all, but that's what I write, so to me every literary fiction I read is education to me and I'm just more naturally interested in reading literary fiction as I'm sure mystery writers are more inclined to read mystery novels. It's a way for me to learn and become more well versed in the genre that I write in. The more literary fiction I read the better writer of it I become as well as I can appreciate the finer intricacies of the writing than I might be able to in other genres because since I write it and understand it better, and so that is where my reading leads me. I'm not really sure where this snobbery that people talk about between the genres comes from. Literary novels can have different sorts of formulas as well and be unoriginal, as can romance and mystery, but romance and mystery get a worse rape for that formula writing. For example, an author who called himself "Nasdijj" copied Sherman Alexie's style of writing, structure and content to the extent that he was caught and called out by Alexie himself. So repetition does happen in literary fiction as well, only it's more often called plagiarism versus formula writing. So I'm not sure where this haughty taughty attitude comes from. Writing and originality are valuable in all forms and after all, isn't that what most Good literary, mystery, fantasy, romance, etc. strive for? Sure, there will always be the writers in All genres who try to copy others, find an easy formula to churn out a book to make money (though why go into Writing of all things to make easy money, you've got me), but let's give people credit, I truly believe that most writers in all genres truly love the craft and care about being original and writing good books. I respect the authors who truly try to be original and write a book that they feel is original and their own authentic work. Is one writing better than the other? Not necessarily, good writing will vary by author in any genre, there are excellent writers in the mystery genre and horrible writers in the literary genre. The whole idea of snobbery gets on my nerves and seems immature, a bullying of sorts in order to make oneself feel superior. I mean, really, can't we just all get along?

Oh, and just for fun because I Love Project Runway and couldn't Stand Vincent and think he should have been off the show the very first show when he dared put a basket on his model's head, I enjoyed laughing my ass off at this clip immensely!


4 comments:

Mas said...

I couldn't agree with you more about how tiresome reading snobbery (or any snobbery, really) is. I think Voltaire put it best: 'All genres are good except the boring genre'.

And what is it with this Project Runway show? So many blogs I read rave about it. I'm a diehard reality TV fan, so I suspect I'd love it, but I'm not prepared to fork out for cable TV. What is it - aspiring fashion designers competing against one another?

mai wen said...

Oh I LOVE Project Runway. I really watch few reality TV shows and this is definitely my all time favorite. It's aspiring fashion designers competing against each other, you sure know your reality shows! But it's so interesting and cool because this show involves Real talent and it's absolutely amazing what they create in how little time and with how little money. It's so creative and intense and you get Create personalities on this show as you could probably guess by thinking of designers.

I'm totally hooked, and Tim Gunn totally reminds me of my creative writing mentor, Steven Bauer, except Steven's not gay, but they're sooo much alike and I love it!

Totally agree with you, snobbery in general's silly, I'm not a fan. I've always been the type of person to include everybody! If I invite one person, everyone around is invited too!

Bill Cameron said...

I'm a fan, I have to admit, but I tend to be an inclusive fan. In the last year, I have read fiction classified (in the desperate need for granularity by marketing departments everywhere) as:

"Chick lit"
"Mystery"
"Suspense"
"Thriller"
"Literary"
"Literary Mystery"
"Dark Comedic Suspense"
"Mainstream"
"Science Fiction"
"Sci Fi"
"Speculative Fiction"
"Noir"

What the hell does that stuff mean? As far as I can tell, I read a lot of books. Some I liked better than others, but never once was my enjoyment or appreciation of a piece of writing influenced by its category.

Sure, sometimes the category gives you a sense of tone or style, but more often than not the category appeared to be assigned by someone who hadn't actually read the book.

mai wen said...

Totally agree, Bill. I think that what makes a book good is it's writing first, and then the other elements of writing like plot, characters, etc. I'll never write off any book because of it's "genre" and very likely the book was classified by the publisher so they could market it, not by the author who wrote it or the readers.

 

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