Genre Wars 2.0

In a blood pressure-raising piece on The New Yorker’s blog, Arthur Krystal astonishes by drafting a piece that seems to intentionally insult anyone who reads it.

In “It’s Genre. Not That There’s Anything Wrong With It!” Krystal writes:
What I’m trying to say is that “genre” is not a bad word, although perhaps the better word for novels that taxonomically register as genre is simply “commercial.” Born to sell, these novels stick to the trite-and-true, relying on stock characters whose thoughts spool out in Lifetime platitudes. There will be exceptions, as there are in every field, but, for the most part, the standard genre or commercial novel isn’t going to break the sea frozen inside us. If this sounds condescending, so be it. Commercial novels, in general, whether they’re thrillers or romance or science fiction, employ language that is at best undistinguished and at worst characterized by a jejune mentality and a tendency to state the obvious. Which is not to say that some literary novels, as more than a few readers pointed out to me, do not contain a surfeit of decorative description, elaborate psychologizing, and gleams of self-conscious irony. To which I say: so what?
There’s more of this -- a lot more -- but be careful to grab a mittful of Lisinopril before reading. Your blood pressure might demand it.

The New Yorker blog piece is here.


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