02 March 2013

From TIME: Literary Revolution in the Supermarket Aisle: Genre Fiction Is Disruptive Technology

I happily avoid the literary/genre debate, because no good can come from such discussions. Feelings get hurt, people cry. But by not worrying about the distinctions between genres, or between genre and literary, I've been free to write pretty much whatever I've wanted. So don't call me a 'genre writer' or a 'literally writer.' I'm neither. I'm a happy writer.

Writers should take the time to read Grossman's commentary though, if only to arm yourselves against the haters.

"Blue-chip literary writers — finding that after years of deprivation under the modernist regime their stores of plot devices are sadly depleted — have been frantically borrowing from genre fiction, which is where plot has been safely stockpiled for all these decades."

"Something nagged at me while I was reading Krystal’s piece, something familiar, and I’ve finally figured out what it is: it’s another New Yorker piece, from a few weeks ago, a profile of Clayton Christensen, the Harvard business professor who first applied the word “disruptive” to technology. Christensen had observed that in many industries, established companies based on high-end, sophisticated technologies tend to become complacent. They consider themselves invulnerable, or at best they look for challenges from even-higher-end technologies. But they’re looking in the wrong places, and what in fact happens is that they are disrupted from below: crude, low-end technologies develop at the bottom of the marketplace, then evolve to the point where they take over their markets and displace the established high-end companies, who never saw it coming.

I’m beginning to wonder if something like that is happening in contemporary fiction. We expect literary revolutions to come from above, from the literary end of the spectrum — the difficult, the avant-garde, the high-end, the densely written. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on. Instead we’re getting a revolution from below, coming up from the supermarket aisles. Genre fiction is the technology that will disrupt the literary novel as we know it.

Read more: http://entertainment.time.com/2012/05/23/genre-fiction-is-disruptive-technology/#ixzz2MObwFIUE