Literature vs. genre fiction

I’ve been subjected to this sentiment throughout my life: “Horror, science fiction, mysteries, and the like, are fine for beach reading, but they’re not literature.”

Then a few years ago, I stumbled across an essay by Anne Rice (author of Interview With A Vampire, among other works) where she dared argue that genre fiction was not only just as good as literature, it was better.*

And I wholeheartedly agree.

I literally read hundreds of literary short stories in Harpers and the New Yorker.  Yes, most are masterfully written.  But most are also slice-of-life stories.

Everyday, I live a slice of life.  But unlike the literature I’ve read, my daily life’s experiences are far richer in senses and thought than can ever be conveyed in words (though Ulysses comes close).  My slices-of-life carry real consequences for me and those around me.  And perhaps greatest of all, my slices-of-life are fleeting; they never occurred before, and they’ll never occur again in the entire history of the universe, and thus, are infinitely precious.

Literary fiction strives to capture what it is to be human.  So what’s the point of reading it?  Just live it.

But in my life, I know I’ll never be London’s finest detective.  I’ll never ride a monstrous sandworm on a far off desert planet.  And I’ll never swoon in the embrace of a vampire.

Genre fiction allows us to experience fantastic delights and horrors that are impossible in our normal daily lives.  That’s what makes it great, and I contend, superior.**


* For the life of me, I can’t find the essay again.  If anyone knows where it is, please point me to it.

** Granted, I’m a genre fiction writer, so I’m a bit biased.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>





A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.