UPDATED 12/13: Edward Docx from The Guardian joins our conversation. Sort of.
Not much time to chat, but I wanted to share this bit of O’Connor genius on a topic that’s pretty hot these days. She always stirs in me that mysterious pride of being from the South though not in it.
“Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.”
— Flannery O’Connor
What bestseller do you wish had been stifled by a good teacher? Be nice now, but have no fear of being brutal. Literature is serious business.
Alright, we’ll start the conversation off with Edward Docx’s hilarious and honest definition of genre versus literary fiction. Feeling sad about the rain or the incredible blizzard in the Midwest? Get refreshed with this:
This is why genre writers cannot claim to have everything. They can take the money and the sales and all that goes with that. And we can sincerely admire them for doing so. But they should not be allowed to get away with suggesting that these things tell us anything about the intrinsic value or scope of their work. Here, for example, is Lee Child talking the kind of ersatz machismo bullshit that so confuses the issue: “The thriller concept is why humans invented storytelling, thousands of years ago. [Is it?] The world was perilous and full of misery, so they wanted the vicarious experience of surviving danger. [Did they?] It’s the only real genre and all the other stuff has grown on the side of it like barnacles. [Really? Barnacles?] I could easily write a work of literary fiction. [No you couldn’t.] It would take me three weeks, [No it wouldn’t] sell about 3,000 copies [Doubt it] and be at least as good as the competition. [Absolutely no chance.] But literary authors can’t write thrillers. They try sometimes, but they can never do it. [Crime and Punishment.]”
And now, your turn.