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Saturday, February 28, 2009


Literature is the art of written works. Literally translated, the word means "acquaintance with letters" (from Latin littera letter). In Western culture the most basic written literary types include fiction and non-fiction.
- from the en.wikki quoted here

Sometimes I have to laugh at myself. When people walk up and ask what I think about literature I tend to wrinkle my nose and answer with varying degrees of honesty depending on my mood.

Generally speaking, I don't see the merit of depressing work. The only reason I liked Hamlet was because I have a twisted sense of humor.


Literature does not mean stuffy, boring, ill-conceived, flowery, purple, stab-me-in-the-eye writing!

Who knew, right? Literature is anything written with the intent of carrying a message. I think we can probably rule out signatures and gang signs as literature, but everything else is fair game.

You may all blame the Innocent Flower for this decent into madness. Her twin posts on literature spurred my own search. I loved what one person said in the comments:
Literary fiction isn't about fancy prose, size of vocabulary, punctuation or any of those surface features. It is about the existential question of life, rather than entertainment per se. Though lots of folks find exploration of the existential question to be exciting, even exhilarating.

My first thought was: Terry Pratchett!

If you haven't ventured into the Discworld series you may not understand, and you need to go acquaint yourself with the series in a hurry, but Terry Pratchett writes what is referred to in the vulgar tongue as Comic Fantasy. Several of his later books are Social Satire, with dwarves. But, like a parable from scripture, there are layers of meaning. You can read the Discworld series and see nothing but goofy characters having fun. Employing a few braincells while reading changes meanings and adds wonderful depth.

I would submit that all books can have the same results. A little thought is all you need to transform something from blank-minded brain candy (cue zombie children) into an artful work of inspired writing.

Which means I have to retract some past invective. I do not hate literary writing. I don't loathe it with an almighty passion. I will try to refrain from spitting fire next time someone mentions "literary merit".

I suppose I'm ready to step past genre boundaries and admit that while I am most at home in a universe with blasters and space ships, the rest of the rich history of the planet and species has merit.

What about you? Are you ready to move past your genre prejudices and try something new? Leave me the name of a book, author, and genre you love. I'll try to find the book for myself, and if you tell me a genre you haven't tried (or haven't enjoyed) I'll try to match you with something you can enjoy.


  1. I love, love, love historical fiction...though being a college Lit teacher, I have to say that I quite enjoy anything with "literary merit." he he :-D

    My book choice is going to be Passion by Jude Morgan. Hard work to name just one. So, what shall I read?

  2. Housekeeping by Marilynn Robinson. I'll be surprised if you make it through. But I promise it's an excellent piece of fiction. :)

    Good post!

  3. And what genres do you want to read?

  4. The "Art of Racing in the Rain" is an amazing, beautiful (dare I say literary after all that?) mainstream piece.

    Not being a fan of mainstream, I read it in hiding, lest someone uncover my fascination with it.

    Great, great book and struck me as a great choice for reading cross-genre.