On a whim a few months back, I asked Salman Rushdie via Twitter if he really preferred literary novels over curling up with a good cowboy yarn or other genre fiction novel. He replied almost instantly: “Nope.”
It was very funny, and now, having become somewhat bored with genre fiction myself, I can see where he is coming from.
I’ve been giving up on finishing a lot of novels I began reading of late. They follow such conventions that after the set up, a reader pretty much knows exactly where the book is going. Since genre writing is meant for the masses, it’s quite uniform, from the plots to the writing itself.
On the other hand, literary fiction is weak on plot and suffers from its own boring tropes and cliches. Sentences and character development are often praised in reviews, but the overall work? Story? Some of these poetical authors might need to reexamine the basics of pace–articles have been written recently on just facing the fact that literary fiction these days is often boring.
Which brings me to McDonalds. Namely, Fine Dining versus Fast food. It’s so similar to the dichotomy between literary novels and genre fiction. The debate has raged for generations, has cost thousands of lives, and has put humanity on the brink of the Apocalypse. And all for what? Corpses lining the streets, salad forks wagging from bloody necks, and cheeseburger wrappers stuffed down people’s throats.
I say enough murder! Enough genocide. There is a buddhistic “middle way” that is healing the wounds in the food industry. It’s called “Fast Casual Dining”.
Fast casual establishments deliver the ambiance and flavour of a groovy urban restaurant, but delivered in an assembly line, fast-paced McProcess.
It’s not like putting ketchup on your steak–it’s recognizing the best of both worlds and putting it together for a specific type of customer.
Why can’t we do the same with writing? Why can’t a cozy mystery flow with sublime poetry? How about a sci-fi action novel infused with powerful imagery and symbolism? A cowboy western with strong Islamic themes?
I crave unique, poetic voices but at the same time, I want a proper story to hit my classical emotional buttons. I want ray guns, space ships, and werewolves to wash down my character development and imagery.
Bon appatit, fine sir… Next!