Sunday Links for March 20, 2011

I didn’t know this sort of thing happened, but apparently horror writers occasionally roast a fellow writer by creating short short stories about him or her and posting them on the web. The latest honoree – or victim, depending on your perspective – was Laird Barron, who also happens to be one of my favorite horror writers. He’s also someone I just plain like, having had the chance to spend some time with him at the World Fantasy Convention a few years ago. I found these stories to be almost uniformly hilarious, though the one about Laird as a pole dancer has a special place in my heart.

Last week I posted links to several articles about literary fiction as a genre – or literary fiction as everything that is not genre fiction, depending on your perspective. Having just this week read Kevin Brockmeier’s wonderful new book, The Illumination, I begin to understand a bit more that literary fiction is its own genre; although The Illumination uses a clearly fantastical idea as one of its two themes, it clearly belongs in the “literary fiction” pile, not the “fantasy” pile. This week, one of the better fantasy and science fiction writers of our time, M. John Harrison, has his say on the argument. Pay close attention to the recommended books in the last paragraph; they all made it to my “to be read” list.

And taking the place of that argument is this week’s internet controversy: can fantasy literature tell the “truth”? Damien Walter, the author of the argument that set things off repeatedly talks about fantasy as “escapist” before reluctantly concluding that sometimes you can find a deeper truth in a tale told through metaphor than through realism. Seems to me he’s reading a lot of the wrong books. Why is fantasy a genre that’s always judged by the worst that it has to offer, rather than the best? Fortunately, Walter mentions some of the good stuff, including the work of China Mieville and Catherynne Valente. There are lots of comments here; yes, a genuine discussion has broken out. Mark Charan Newton takes it a step further and writes his own essay on the question, again giving rise to an interesting discussion in the comments.

If you’ve been wondering what science fiction book to give your middle-school child to get her hooked on the genre, wonder no more. Of course, the three books mentioned in this article are merely a start, but once that kid gets a whiff of this good stuff, he’ll be seeking out more of the same on his own.

Remember a few years ago when Stephen King announced that he was retiring, and we all went into deep mourning? Yeah, well, I think he’s published at least a baker’s dozen books since then. And now he’s even going back to the Dark Tower universe to fill in a gap in the tale. I haven’t even read the last three or four books in the original series – I’ve been saving them for a rainy day – and really need to go back to the first and start all over. That actually sounds like a great deal of fun.

What would Sunday Links be without a link to a book list? Here you go: a zombie lovers’ book list. Can’t get enough of the undead? Bet you haven’t read everything on this list. I note that the list doesn’t include Jonathan Maberry’s numerous contributions to the sub-genre, nor the recently published The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse by Steven C. Schlozman, M.D., which is high on my to-read list. And John Joseph Adams’s The Living Dead and The Living Dead 2 aren’t mentioned? And Garth Nix’s Sabriel is classified as a zombie novel? What kind of self-respecting list is this, anyway? One would almost think that someone had gotten to the brain of the writer.

Your Thoughts?

I was really hoping to hear your thoughts on The Illumination and why you felt it was 'literary' as opposed to 'genre.' Perhaps you're saving that for another post? Or a full review?

'I begin to understand a bit more that literary fiction is its own genre'

You have to elaborate or I'll forever consider you a tease!

It's all in the review

Chad, I'm writing that up as an entry in Fantasy Lit's occasional "The Edge" series, which is intended to cover books that straddle genres. I'm not in charge of when it appears -- not to mention that I haven't written it yet -- but I'll be sure to post a note here when it goes up.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.