Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Quote of the Week: John McFetridge on Genre

My friend the Toronto-based novelist John McFetridge (Everybody Knows This is Nowhere) is a heavy lifter in the thinking department. He’s also pleasantly twisted. Both of these things become apparent when you read his books. (Call them neo noir. It’s as close to a label as you’re going to be able to get with his work.)

McFetridge (And for some reason I always call him “McFetridge.” Never “John.” Even to his face.) tosses out quotable quotes the way some of us say, “huh?”

The quote below is from e-mail McFetridge sent me this morning. He was talking about how people perceive fiction and where genre fits: a topic both of us can go on (and on and on and…) about and often do, even in public.

This one was too good not to share so, to his amusement, he gave his permission when I asked if I could share it with you here:
Some people want to make money serving food and so they open a franchise, a McDonalds or an Olive Garden and they make money. Other people want to be a chef and open a small, gourmet restaurant. I’ve eaten at both kinds of restaurants and in the right mood they’re both fine. But sometimes people get them mixed up. That’s what bugs me. Sometimes mystery writers write “real books,” like chefs prepare gourmet meals, but because it’s labeled “Mystery” some people automatically think it’s fast food. (My biggest example here is Elmore Leonard -- a writer every bit as good as Hemingway and Raymond Carver, but no one noticed till smarty-pants Martin Amis pointed it out).
I’m blogging over at Moments in Crime for the rest of my week. Come see what I’m up to over there. (And don’t worry: it’s different stuff than I’m up to over here.)

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