There’s this notion that labelling something with a genre somehow cheapens it, however so much stuff that’s “literary” is sort of fantastical (or speculative or, well, pick one). I mean, what’s 100 Years of Solitude, if not a kind of fantasy? The weirder thing, really, is that the aversion to labeling something like Vampires in the Lemon Grove as fantasy serves to keep a lot of readers away who would be otherwise be very interested in the story.
From The Guardian.
It’s always a problem when one of literature’s big beasts wanders off the reservation into the badlands of genre. The latest to blunder through the electric barriers erected around the safe zone is two-time Booker prize nominee David Mitchell, whose new book Slade House is undeniably a haunted house story. Or, as the Chicago Tribune put it, his “take on a classic ghost story”. As if the thousands of genre ghost stories written every year by horror writers weren’t also one individual’s take on that classic form.
This right here, though:
Writing a werewolf novel because you think it will sell, then patronising people who love werewolf novels, isn’t a smart marketing strategy – but it’s amazing how many smart writers are doing just this.
The kid that’s interested in fantasy or science fiction that only haunts those parts of the book store misses a lot of really great stuff. But those sections are full of hacks, right? Ugh. Genre shouldn’t be short for “this one plot and these same characters with different names”. I mean, it’s not like the literature section isn’t full of books about men’s important boners.
Genre should be a tool for discovery, not a gatekeeping device. Calling House of Leaves literature isn’t going to do me any favors if I want to browse through books that are meant to leave me unsettled. This, of course, goes back to Boing Boing’s post the other day about how genres should be more like tags and less like hierarchical categories.
From Boing Boing
Ultimately, a hardline This-or-That, pigeonholing system of defining genre and works is far more trouble than it’s worth, and can do a great disservice to works that defy easy categorization. Most traditional systems in the publishing industry fit into the pigeonholing system. BISAC Codes (basically trade publishing’s official genre system) are fairly granular, but totally fail to keep up with the proliferation of sub-genres, and the genre categorization systems of all of the major ebook retailers fall victim to the same This-or-That approach.
Oh man, so much this. That said, this approach would be fine for online markets, but how would it work in a physical bookstore? The problem would still be there.
Also, for those of you who still haven’t signed up for my mailing list, I frequently send out sneak peeks and link to awesome short stories and authors that you should be reading. So yeah, you should sign up.
On Wednesday, 3rd June (tomorrow) at KGB Bar in the East village, my short story “Hinchinbrook” will be read to a room full of strangers. It’s part of an ongoing series called Liars’ League NYC that pairs trained actors with—and I’m quoting here—emerging and established writers.
During June of 2006 I was visiting an old friend of mine in India. He was a former teacher and I tracked him down online a year before. Tim had left the Anchorage school district under a cloud of controversy. Rather than push the boulder back uphill, he decided to pack everything and move to India, with a few years’ detour through southeast Asia.
A little excerpt from a bar scene in that never-ending project that I’m working on.
A girl that looked like she had been assembled in a white person factory was waving her hand at Alex. She had the nervous energy of a Yorkshire Terrier and the same dumb beady eyes.
“Okay, like, I want. Girls? What are you having? Okay. I want. Vodka soda. Wait—no. Vodka diet Sprite. Do you have Grey Goose? It’s okay. Ketel. Okay, like shit. One Ketel Diet Sprite, one but light, one—wait, Courtney, what? Ew. Sure. And one Jack and Coke. Got that?” She waved a credit card.
Alex grimaced and took the card from her. “Keep it open?”
“Close it. Hey?”
She fluttered her eyes and gave a fake baby smile. “Make it strong, kay?”
This was pretty much what it was like to be a bartender.
I am not a fast writer, but I would love to be one. Luckily it turns out that for a slow writer like myself, there are a few techniques that not only boost my word count, but help me to plot a more coherent story in general. If you happen to be a natural writing wizard who cranks out thousands of words per day, this post might not be for you. Which is fine, because fuck wizards.
A while back on Reddit a user made a post asking "How do you actually finish a story/book [or come up with plots]?"
Lookit all this, a shiny new blog! I’ve finally moved off Tumblr, which was a great platform but I felt like it was time to move on. Along with the change of platforms, I’ve also decided to approach this blog from a different angle. I’ll be posting more often and many of my posts will have to do with the writing process. I know, I know, just what the world needs, another navel-gazing writer writing about writing. Sorry about my narcissism. Smooches.
The other big shift is that I’ll be moving most of my short stories off the site. Where are they going? A few of the lucky ones will end up on Amazon after some heavy editing. The rest, well, sometimes you just gotta do that quality control thing. I’ve already done this with John Is Dead. It’s all about experimentation.
As for the new blog platform, luckily I have a few nerd superpowers so I can use tools like Jekyll to author my posts and Amazon S3 for hosting. The upshot of going this way is that I have a lot more freedom to format this site how I like, and hopefully I’ll do a bit better in the search engine rankings as well. The extra freedom will allow me to experiment more with things like SEO, mailing list signups, and whatever else springs to mind.
Cheers and thanks for being one of the literally dozen of people who read my blog.
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