Tin House & Genre Fiction

Posted by @ 11:48 am on August 16th, 2009

This morning, I came across Matthew Cheney’s blog The Mumpsimus, wherein I got absorbed by this post, in which he addresses a recent statement by Tin House re: their position on “genre fiction.”

A reader wrote Tin House with this question:

I have read several issues of Tin House, including the most recent. Two vegetarians go on a hunting trip . . . enough said. I feel that I have several pieces that would fit the magazine, however, I am struggling with just one thing. This question is geared not only toward the magazine but the writing workshop as well. Do you accept genre fiction? I was also wondering how I might go about determining whether or not my piece fits into a specific genre and what general fiction is. Thank you in advance.
—Confused in LA

A writer for Tin House responded thusly.

I think Cheney’s criticism of the response raises many interesting questions. Why, for instance, in this day & age, are so many literary-types still so anti-genre, so myopic, so essentialist?

Here’s one example: Tin House on “what is genre fiction”:

My personal definition goes something like this: fiction that almost purposefully avoids the literary, in hopes of keeping the reader (or the writer, for that matter) from having to “work” too hard.


No, really.