Yes, it’s true. I’ve never been a fan of Literary Fiction. I know, I know, it’s supposed to be the good stuff, right? The meatier fiction. The kind with more depth, that explores the human condition. Right? Ugh. Nine times out of ten I can’t stand it. I know, Oprah’s book club says it’s the best stuff out there and a lot of it gets made into movies. More power to the author. But it’s just not to my taste.
Give me Commercial Fiction any day! I absolutely adore a good cheezy romance novel. That’s why I write them. And no, nothing I write is going to win the Booker Prize, but boy is it fun. I love the nickname “Bodice-Rippers” for Romance, particularly Historical Romance. Yes! Absolutely! Let’s rip those bodices! Because it’s fun. It’s sensational. It’s a whole lot of hyperbole wrapped up in a beautiful package of gorgeous heroines and steaming hot heroes who always end up saying and doing the right thing in the end … and are VERY good in bed.
Or Science Fiction/Fantasy, which I also love. There may be those out there who find it completely unrealistic, but to that I say hogwash! The brilliant creativity exhibited by sci-fi/fantasy authors boggles the mind. I love reading imaginations in overdrive. To conceive of entire new worlds that bear only a passing resemblance to ours is amazing. And so often these worlds are filled with hope, even in the midst of despair. Usually in the midst of despair, actually. They talk about the triumph of the human spirit, of the epic battle of good versus evil.
But no, there’s still that stuffy little voice inside of me that thinks that I should try to like Literary Fiction more. Literary Fiction is about real people and real issues. It looks at life the way it is, right? In real life people are depressed. They have a hard time. They struggle to overcome the troubles of their past or of society. That’s the goods, right?
Honestly, I find all that realism to be a bit pretentious. And all that depression is just … depressing. I’m going to go further and be radical and say that Commercial Fiction, my Romance and Sci-Fi/Fantasy, other people’s Mysteries and Horror and Paranormal novels do actually contain the full scope of realistic human emotions. Who doesn’t want to fall in love with a sizzlingly built hero who rocks your world in bed? Who isn’t involved on some level in the battle between Good and Evil and the expansion of the human mind and universe? Commercial Fiction tells the stories in our hearts and imaginations with bright, vivid brush-strokes. Everything that it is to be human is right there.
Okay, I have another confession. I also have a wickedly selfish and embarrassing reason I don’t like Literary Fiction. I’m not proud of it, but here it is. There is a girl from my high school class who was absolutely horrible to me in school. I was badly bullied through elementary school and on into high school until I finally left town, and this girl, woman now, was one of the worst offenders. Well, she’s a Writer. Worse still, she got a book deal and was published. Before me. She made my childhood miserable and then stole my dream right out from under me. Bitch. She writes Literary Fiction. I hate her. … No I don’t, that’s mean. … Okay, yes I do. =P Told you it was selfish and embarrassing. We can’t be mature all the time, even in our late 30s.
But seriously, it’s all a matter of how we like to approach the world. My best friend loves Literary Fiction. She also tends to be more stalwart than me. Unless her blood sugar is low (then watch out!). I have always been more, um, eccentric. But as they say, that’s why Baskin-Robbins makes 31 flavors. And coming from a background in Theater as I do, it also strikes me that Literary Fiction is more in keeping with the tradition of Realism while in many ways Commercial Fiction is more like Romanticism or even Existentialism. It’s all about the package we like our emotions wrapped in. I like bright, shiny, sexy things. But that doesn’t mean that I’m right and the Literary Fiction crowd is wrong. Although I would love to see book clubs out there read some bodice-rippers.
But what about you? Which do you like better and why?
P.S. I have a secret plot for revenge on my high school bully Literary Fiction writing woman. She has a Facebook author page, I have a Facebook author page. I want to have more “likes” than her. Last time I checked she had about 346. When I make it to 350 I am going to throw such an internet party that I will go straight to Hell for gloating so maliciously. Heh heh heh. So if you’d like to help me out with this, please click on “Leave a Comment” and follow the link at the bottom of that page to my Facebook page. “Like” me and you too can support petty high school antics on the eve of my 20 year class reunion