Genre followup, here and at Tin House blog

Posted by @ 7:47 am on August 18th, 2009

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Christopher Higgs’ post from the other day, “Tin House & Genre Fiction,” has broken 100 comments. One of those comments is from Tonaya Thompson, the author of the Tin House blog post, “To Genre or Not to Genre,” that Higgs was posting about. Thompson has also written a followup post on the Tin House blog, “Genre Redux.”

Anyone who read my original post as saying that we will discount any piece of writing out of hand is willfully misreading it. And I think that’s because my attack on “lazy” writing put a lot of people on the defensive, especially since I equated that with genre writing.

It’s a good piece, and if you’ve been following the thread, you should definitely read this new post. She seems rather generous to me, in terms of treating her detractors with credulity. She’s certainly more conciliatory than I’d ever dream of being, if similarly treated. (Ironically enough I have an obligation to disclose that I am published in the current issue of Tin House: an essay celebrating Needful Things by Stephen King, the very existence of which would seem to put the lie to a whole raft of commenter claims about TH’s–and my–genre-related biases.)

Anyway, for ease of access, after the jump find a copy of Thompson’s comment in the Higgs thread. It’s worth reading the comment before proceeding to the followup post, and you’ll notice that she asks for recommendations of genre writing to read, so feel free to leave those on her blog or on ours. You–or she–could also do much worse, I’d just like to mention, than by reading the Michael Moorcock book pictured above.

August 17th, 2009 / 8:22 pm

Tonaya Thompson

Hi there, thought I’d pitch in. Seems, in part, the conversation I was hoping to have on my own blog is happening here instead.

Listen, since it’s been pointed out that I may have not read enough “genre” fiction to judge it, I’d love for someone to give me a –SHORT– reading list. I’ve got a lot on my plate, but I’ll definitely try to squeeze in a few over the next couple months. I really have been intending to read stuff people think is good but never shows up in the Times. The only thing I ask is make it contemporary and semi-off-the radar as far as mainstream literary interests are concerned.

Also, I’ve updated some thoughts on Tin House’s blog if anyone’s interested in checking it out. And to re-iterate, my presumptions are in no way Tin House’s presumptions, which is something I didn’t think about when I published that first post.

I think the wonderful and difficult thing about this discussion is that art is so damn wiley. Things start at the fringes and become mainstream and then people rebel against them by starting back up at the fringes. Lines are crossed and re-crossed. People are desperate to classify things. Things are, on an organic level, impossible to classify.

You know, if we’re all here for the right reasons, as people who love books and stories, then I’d bet anything we can put our differences aside.

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