I have no idea what literary fiction is.
Not that long ago, I thought I understood this concept. Genre fiction is plot-driven, for the most part, and literary fiction is more character-driven. Then I started reading about characterization and thought, Waitaminnit … ALL fiction is character-driven. Those characters might be involved in a plot of some sort, but if you use cardboard cut-outs you’re not going to get far in any kind of literature. Or something like that.
Now, if characters drive the story by moving through a plot in genre fiction, then what’s literary fiction? A story driven by characters moving through … what? Other characters? A series of random events? Nothing, like the Seinfeld show? Really, what the heck?
Stein calls non-literary fiction “transient fiction”. I think that’s demeaning and insulting. (Which is making it hard to keep pushing through the book, btw.) I don’t want anything I write to be anymore transient than necessary. Matter of fact, I’d like my work to be lasting, remembered long after I’m gone. None of us, I don’t think, is trying to write transient fiction … or do transient work in any capacity where artistic endeavors are required.
So, what’s the deal? What’s literary fiction, and why is it considered “better” fiction? What’s wrong with genre fiction? Why can’t it be as artistic as any other fiction?
Seriously, I’m confused now. What is literary fiction? How is it different than genre fiction? And why do snobbish reviewers and critics find it “better”?
Let me know, y’all. I’m gettin’ more confused with every passing moment.
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