by Jess Howard
After finding myself caught in a particularly upsetting example of British weather on Monday afternoon, I decided my time hiding from the rain would be best spent nosing round the Impressionist collection currently held in the Courtauld gallery. After fanning away the tears that inexplicably began to spring from my eyes as I stood in front of Édouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folie-Bergère, I stood for a while to look at Vincent Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, painted shortly after the artist removed his own right ear.
Once I had gotten over my annoyance at the people taking photos of the works around them on their smart phones, instead of just looking at them – which I’m sure could make up another article entirely – I continued to look at the painting, the first real piece of Impressionist art I think I have ever seen in person.Continue Reading
by Mike Carey
Continued from part one, published on The Norwich Radical two weeks ago.
I hate to rake up ancient history, but here’s another example from a little further back – dredged up because in this case it is a writer of literary novels (Edward Docx, in the Observer in 2010) who’s saying this, so the agenda is maybe a little more naked.
Even good genre… is by definition a constrained form of writing. There are conventions and these limit the material. That’s the way writing works and lots of people who don’t write novels don’t seem to get this: if you need a detective, if you need your hero to shoot the badass CIA chief, if you need faux-feminist shopping jokes, then great; but the correlative of these decisions is a curtailment in other areas. If you are following conventions, then a significant percentage of the thinking and imagining has been taken out of the exercise. Lots of decisions are already made.
Considering that Docx rails against “a fundamental dishonesty” in the way this subject is usually discussed, I’m going to pick my words with care.
by Mike Carey
The argument about the relative merits of literary and genre fictions just keeps running and running. There’ll be periods of decorous silence, and then it will break out again, usually in the form of some egregious statement in a broadsheet or magazine, and it will be like it never left.
One thing you tend to notice after a while, though: it’s almost never writers of genre fiction who are picking the fight. To be fair, it’s often not “literary” writers either – it’s academics taking up the cudgels on their behalf; considerately telling us which stories are worth serious consideration and which aren’t. And I guess we appreciate the help, right? Because it’s a bewildering fictional landscape out there and an innocent young seeker after truth could easily go astray.Continue Reading