Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Fiction by Genre as Opposed to Genre Fiction..

..because to me the two are not the same. 

'Genre Fiction' is fiction written to fall into a specific genre and therefore with a specific target audience. Books not written with that goal in mind may be sorted into genre to make it easier for the reader to find more of the sort of thing they like, or so the bookshop knows where to shelf it, or even so the marketing department don't have a nervous breakdown, but that doesn’t make it genre fiction and doesn’t mean any specific reader falls in or out of the target demographic.

This is why it makes little sense to debate whether Jane Austen wrote romance novels or comedies of manner. There's nothing inherently wrong with the question - it makes little difference to the books and none at all to our author, and it contributes to lively discussion - it's just unfortunate that the answer may mean half the reading population won't pick them up. 

Another example of the dangers of allocating books to genre might be the Portrait of Mr WH, which if it hadn't fallen into the ‘classics’ net by virtue of age, would probably be filed under ‘gay interest’, where 90% of people would walk on by because they fall out of that particular demographic.

All of which goes some way towards explaining why snotty remarks about adults reading young adult fiction give me a pain in the back of my neck, I look slightly askance at the ‘classic’ shelf in the library and the release of Jane Austen in pastel covers that subliminally scream ‘chicklit’ wind me up.

It’s all designed not only to lead readers to more of the sort of thing they've read before, but to subdivide them so that they can be better marketed to. Presumably the next step (if it hasn't happened already) will be publishing houses dictating what kind of things authors should write in order to cater to specific parts of said market.

So in the spirit of proving there is good stuff in all and any genres you could possibly think of I will be blogging, over the coming weeks, looking at each in turn. It’s a personal view, the list is not definitive, and I’m sure I’ll put some of the books into categories others would not. But that, to recap my point above, is because these are no hard and fast rules. Read wide, read old and new, but most of all, read what you like. Not what you're told to.

edit: Oh dear this never happened did it? Too ambitious a project... One day, maybe, and my last sentence still stands. 

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