Friday, June 2, 2017

Literal explorations? Bookin', for certain.


-->I wish someone  reliable (like Jane Friedman) would post a full list of literary genres. The best I could do today was the list at Wikipedia. In lieu of more reliable information, I'm going to make a leap of faith and carry on here with something that's on my mind. Bear with me, please.


So... what's your favorite literary genre? Do you like fiction or nonfiction? (All novels are fiction.) Do you like cozy stories, something that flies high and wild into the realms of imagination, or maybe prefer a how-to or historical volume? Humor/comedy, horror, fantasy... what tantalizes you? All fiction applies to the emotional impact of the story, whereas nonfiction, unless it's narrative, deals with flat facts or at least basically verifiable information (truth, we'll call it, though it all is open to translation).

I've dabbled in both, to some degree. And I read over a broad spectrum. Fiction, nonfiction. My personal interests lean to narrative nonfiction and those forms of fiction that tend to endure, such as literary fiction, and extending into those works that are open to translation.

Many people think of science fiction and fantasy as being too "out there" to be worthy of reading, a suggestion with which I do not agree. There's a list on Goodreads, Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Novels, which includes a good number of the books I'm talking about, books proven to be classics. Other lists include more. There are as many lists as opinions. (Mine included, I grant you.)

I'm constantly on the hunt for books with a powerful lyric voice. Throw in an unpredictable ending that's still plausible, and I'm ready to pounce.

Romances and "cozy" stories are too easy to predict, I find. The patterns of certain genres are standard weave. Mysteries and detective stories fall into this category. I can no longer enjoy these books as much as others, even though for many years I read almost anything I could get my hands on, even the labels of cans or boxes, if nothing else was at hand. I don't go in for shock value, be it sex or gore. Those are simply much over-used gadgets, not to be confused with literary devices. Where they burgeon into full-blown volumes, I find a napping place. Either it's a good story, or it's dressed up to be a good story, in a manner of speaking. I prefer a good story. 

Yes, I sometimes write. But first of all, I'm a reader. There are many divisions and re-divisions of genre, and many books cross genres. (One current example of a cross-genre novel, a highly unpredictable form that stays high on my list of priorities in the search for new material, is Diana Gabaldon. She crossed romance, historical, and science fiction into a highly saleable and hugely entertaining series that's now on the small screen via Starz.) Preference is as diverse as fingerprints or handwriting. I simply enjoy books (and movies) that break the mold. They're rare. That makes me sad.

Books and movies are written largely to engage. They should make one laugh, cry, shiver, or question our ways of thinking. To engage large numbers of readers (or viewers) is a validation of the creative art of storytelling. A great storyteller should be able to share with those who love their favorite genre. It's a way of crashing barriers and finding new vision.

Take away the books I love, and I'm anguished within a single day. If you love an author's work, please tell them. Write reviews of their work. Speak to others like yourself.

One of my greatest pleasures is discovering a new and gifted storyteller who works hard at the craft while weaving a web I can't ignore.