Friday, July 11, 2008

It's not just about genre

If everything had gone to plan, I would have posted a nice, juicy review yesterday. Instead I ended up spending just about all day in bed with a sheet over my head trying to block out the light. Migraine. Bleah.

Luckily I'm mostly recovered today, so here is one of the extra things I remembered while I was trying to avoid stray photons that might make my head explode:

To follow on from my 'manifesto' (see previous post), my criterion of "make me think about the world differently" applies to all literature, including mainstream and non-fiction.

Non-fiction gets off pretty easily; usually its only purpose is to present a new fact or a new idea. Some are better at it than others, of course. Plus, sometimes you get something totally unexpected, such as when The Chief, a biography of William Randolph Hearst, gave me greater insight into the class structure of America.

Mainstream fiction sometimes has a harder job - so much of it is written by suburban WASPs. For instance, Catcher and the Rye didn't do anything for me. However, books like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Color Purple can really change your views and give you new perspectives.

Anyway, I just wanted to make it clear that the standards I outlined work pretty well for just about everything I read, not just genre literature. Speaking of enlightening non-fiction, while I was suffering yesterday my copy of The Issue at Hand, the first collection of 'Atheling, Jr.' criticism arrived. I hope I'll have some time to delve into it today, perhaps after I post that review this afternoon.

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