Wednesday, October 15, 2008

No one's keeping score, right?

Because I'm about to direct you all over to Neil Gaiman's journal again for his "Ethel the aardvark..." entry. The reason I direct you all there is that it's an interesting insight into how authors are using the internet to manipulate the sales of their books. I mean this 'not in a bad way.' Also, in teaching fantasy and children's lit., I often query students on where they found their copies of The Eyre Affair or The Book Thief. We speak a great deal of genre, but watching genre work in practice, upon the bookseller's shelves, is often enlightening and a little... well, mad at times. So I'm thoroughly delighted with the madness occurring around The Graveyard Book. Only, now I'm trying to fathom if I have any space in the curriculum for The Graveyard Book... I don't think I do... unless... oh I know! There is one unit where I'm not currently teaching any Neil Gaiman...

After that little tangent, the appeal of the madness to me is that I teach what is often labelled 'genre fiction'. The label annoys me. It provides too many people with an easy out with which to dismiss the bubbling energy of the fiction that occurs beneath the label. Likewise, it readily biases value judgements of genre fiction against literary or general fiction (and if you think about it, literary fiction is a redundent label). The greatest irony is, of course, that most of the great works of English literature (and I'm revealing a Western bias here) would be categorised as genre fiction today. Of course, that's so evident an argument, it's hardly worth making. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your genres (sorry).

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