Why Genre?

On any given day, you'll find me reading. I might be reading a book, a magazine, something on a screen, a newspaper, a zine... and almost everything I read is genre, or genre related. Occasionally, it'll look like I'm reading mainstream stuff, but closer examination will almost always reveal that it's Douglas Coupland, or Michael Marshall Smith, or one of those other writers who lurk around on the edges of a genre, pretending they're not in it.

I've been asked why, on more than one occasion, and sometimes I've been hard put to say why. Sometimes I go off on the negatives of mainstream fiction - it's prosaic, it's boring, it doesn't grab me, it has to be made different in some way before anyone is interested in it anymore. Sometimes I talk about the positives of genre fiction. It's fresh, it has new ideas, it makes my brain stretch, good writers are easier to find, it appeals to the escapist in me, it expresses me better.

If you examine either list of reasons, you'll find they're flawed. Mainstream fiction is now always prosaic. It doens't have to be wildly different for people to pay attention to it. Genre fiction is not necessarily fresh, or at all well written.

It comes down to two. Mainstream fiction doesn't grab me. Genre fiction expresses me better. And that's what my reading is all about.

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Posted by Drew Shiel at July 13, 2004 12:25 AM | TrackBack

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