The whole post is worth reading, but here’s a taste:
To read a novel is a difficult and complex art. You must be capable not only of great fineness of perception, but of great boldness of imagination if you are going to make use of all that the novelist — the great artist — gives you.
Virginia made a cameo here on the Jacke blog once before, when she visited Stonehenge. Glad to have you back, Virginia!
Let’s try a little K.T. Tunstall for our onward and upward. With the legendary Daryl Hall. Can’t we all just go hang out there, at Daryl’s house?
Any writer who heads out into the marketplace soon realizes that the marketplace is carved up into sections, organized by genre. Is your book science fiction? Fantasy? Steampunk? Women’s fiction? Literary fiction? Romance? Creative nonfiction? Biography? Historical fiction?
Roughly you can think of this as “Where would you look for this in the bookstore?”
This can be frustrating. Many authors of science fiction will claim, rightly, that their books have the same devotion to character and language that “literary fiction” does. And authors of literary fiction will say that their books have enough mystery, or romance, that they shouldn’t be lumped in with the highfalutin’. Most if not all authors believe that their books have at least a couple of these elements, and can appeal to readers accordingly.
Aha, you say. Bookstores are no longer physical spaces! We don’t need to choose one shelf on which to place a book. Online, every book can be in multiple categories!
But that’s not how it works. Online bookstores organize things into lists. Forums dedicated to books and reading focus on particular genres. Reviewers have preferences for genres they like to read. And most importantly, readers look for books in their genre (or avoid ones they don’t like). For an author, declaring a genre serves a purpose in a) getting readers to consider your book and b) setting their expectations for what they will find.
I don’t know if this will ever change. I’m just saying that it hasn’t yet.
All of this is a lengthy prelude to what I really want to say. Because there is a different way to think of this. There is hope, people! Continue reading →
Before answering your letter, I might have spent a long time in consideration of its subject; but as from the first moment of its reception and perusal I determined on which course to pursue, it seemed to me that delay was wholly unnecessary.
You are aware that I have many reasons to feel gratified to your family, that I have peculiar reasons for affection towards one at least of your sisters, and also that I highly esteem yourself. Do not therefore accuse me of wrong motives when I say that my answer to your proposal must be a decided negative. In forming this decision — I trust I have listened to the dictates of conscience more than to those [of] inclination; I have no personal repugnance to the idea of a union with you — but I feel convinced that mine is not the sort of disposition calculated to form the happiness of a man like you. It has always been my habit to study the character of those amongst whom I chance to be thrown, and I think I know yours and can imagine what description of woman would suit you for a wife. Her character should not be too marked, ardent and original — her temper should be mild, her piety undoubted, her spirits even and cheerful, and her “personal attractions” sufficient to please your eye and gratify your just pride. As for me, you do not know me, I am not this serious, grave, cool-headed individual you suppose — you would think me romantic and [eccentric — you would] say I was satirical and [severe]. [However, I scorn] deceit and I will never for the sake of attaining the distinction of matrimony and escaping the stigma of an old maid take a worthy man whom I am conscious I cannot render happy.
Farewell—! I shall always be glad to hear from you as a friend –
Have you ever been disappointed by hearing recordings of famous authors? No? Then maybe you haven’t heard enough of them. The sound of Hemingway bloviatiang about the time he “banged” Marlene Dietrich (“that Kraut”) is not something you can ever unhear. Fear not, reader! I’m not going to link to that.
Instead, here’s an illuminating, uplifting experience: listening to the voice of Ms. Flannery O’Connor, the Queen of the Southern Grotesque and absolutely the finest author ever to inevitably surprise me with the shocking perfect word – well, of course, that’s not true. But she was the first and only one to do it with the word Nome(!) Nome! That is an author with a genius ear, and a genius feel for her region. A genius putting her special empathic genius to work.
In this one she says Nome! Not the Nome I was referring to, but close enough. O’Connor is the best. And Popova delivers the goods, once again.
No, I’m definitely not linking to the Hemingway clip. You can check out my efforts to forge a new Grotesque genre – Midwest Grotesque? Big Law Grotesque? – by taking a look at The Race or The Promotion.
The former owner of an Ohio oil and gas services contractor pled guilty in federal court Monday to ordering an employee to release thousands of gallons of hydraulic fracturing waste liquids down a stormwater drain and into the Mahoning River.