Monday, 31 May 2010

Soulless Hacks & Garbage Heaps

My central beef with genre fiction is its short-sighted view of the human condition. Characters in crime novels are often hard-drinking geniuses whose only ray of sunshine is exterminating the criminal filth that blights the streets. We are deluded into believing there might exist some altruistic alkie surrendering his small quotient of happiness so other people can sleep safe in their beds at night, pretending crime isn’t everywhere.

This is a misleading hoax. More likely, the character would become an alcoholic and lose his job. He’d either rehabilitate himself after months of intense therapy (at his own expense) and then go to work as a store detective, or he’d hurl himself off a bridge.

I am personally insulted by genre authors who refuse to acknowledge the utter pointlessness of existence. As writers, we have a duty to lift our readers from the meaningless drudgery of their everyday lives and reassure them that comfort is to be found mooning the cosmos on a daily basis and drinking in pleasure wherever we can find it.

I started writing when I was teenager as a means of understanding the world. To me, the practice of day to day life seemed patently absurd, and my writing reflected this. I wrote parodies, piss-takes, and assorted hysterical rants as my means of comprehending the disconnection in my soul between my physical surroundings and my mindset.

I took enormous comfort from this, and as I grew into a mildly disappointing misanthrope, I found it impossible to function without writing as my means of expression, my means of understanding. So characters refusing to acknowledge their status as valueless pawns on a loathsome planet are cardboard deer and I spit on their antlers.

When genre writers refuse to confront the desperation of the everyday in their works, they are soulless hacks whose work is not even fit to grace the top of a garbage heap. Thank you. And yes, I’ll take that hug now.


  1. Markie, Markie, Markie....

    Unlike heaps of dog shit, if you dig deep enough into most people you WILL find something of value.

    Certainly, sometimes that crappy covering makes it seem not worthwhile, and always it would be nicer if we didn't have to dig first...

    Some writers like to show what can be found.

    I fully agree that most genre writers do not fit that category though.

  2. I need burping. It's burping season.


    Excuse me.

  3. Hell, how I hated regurgitated milk on my shoulder!

  4. I hate people. People suck.

  5. Alison Summers2 June 2010 at 18:07

    When does genre writing stop being genre writing and become literary writing? For whose benefit are these boxes created? I don't think the buying public really want the same old, same old every time they go into a bookshop. It would be fun to mount a raid on a large branch of a certain bookshop and hurl books from the shelves on to the floor and then shove them back on the wrong shelves. Would it make any difference to sales? After all if you want a specific book it is easier to order them online. If you are in a bookshop I defy most readers to resist picking ramdom books up and browsing the contents. Am I making sense?

  6. Babs: Yeah. You suck. No... no... I suck. We both suck.

    Alison: I definitely agree re the bookshop. I usually look for authors I like in second-hand bookshops, though. That's because I can't find them in mainstream shops like Waterstones. If anything small bookshops are places for literary excursions, while your Waterstones and co. are your genre providers.

  7. So this has nothing to do with your current post, but I'm reading McSweeney's 15 and I love it. I love it so much I want to lick its pages. I wish you would buy it so we could argue about it.

    Also, your blog is somewhat negative, which is fine. It is okay to be negative. But think of how much more you would really be accomplishing if you spent more time focusing on what you love and what intrigues you rather than what you hate or what irritates you.

  8. Actually, also, I have a question for you if you can shoot me an email at brandiwells at gmail dot com.

    Always enjoy reading your blog,

  9. Brandi: Too negative? Moi? Nay nay nay! Actually, you're probably right. I think I save up all my love for those monthly novel round-ups.

    Plus it is fun to play the tortured writer card. Generally I'm put off by blogs that say "I'm doing really well as writer and having a wonderful time! Regard my shiny epaulettes!"

  10. I'm going to include the the words "I'm doing really well as a writer and having a wonderful time!" in all my blog posts from now on.
    I may retitle my blog that.

  11. Now that would be a positive title. I should have another blog exclusively for happiness. Would work wonders for my self-esteem. Thank you for reading, by the way. I forgot to acknowledge your kind blip. :)