February 27, 2012

Darren Guest interview

I have my reading at Book People tonight at 7 PM. If you’re in the Austin area, swing by! And make sure to tell me the internet version of me sent you.

I did a fun interview with Darren Guest last week, which is now up here. We discussed many things, including the “genre ghetto”:

In Mr Shivers you use some powerful symbology in your examination of the ethos of death himself, and describe the novel as literary-ish.  In The Troupe there’s a certain Latin phrase that hints at a similar metaphysical exploration that could warrant another ‘ish’ – where do you stand in the old ‘Literary Vs Genre’ debate? 

RJB:  I don’t pay attention to the conflict – I presume it isn’t there, because it isn’t, not really. It’s a bunch of preconceived notions that we’re starting to shed the more porous our mediums get – TV bleeds into internet bleeds into writing, etc. I was once told, for example, that genre readers are some of the most aesthetically conservative readers out there – this is a statement I intend to disprove if it kills me. Or the genre readers.

Sometimes we do seem dreadfully intent on keeping these preconceived notions, though – and genre, though it likes to play the victim in railing against the mainstream and literary establishment, has as many self-inflicted strictures as the mainstream inflicts on it in turn.

A few people said that Mr. Shivers could not be a horror novel because it did not have enough violence in it, for example. Similarly, at one convention someone asked the panel what sort of symbolism they used – and they laughed and said they didn’t bother with that, they were genre writers, for God’s sakes.

That’s a terribly myopic way to go about looking at fiction, I think. Perhaps we must be dragged kicking and screaming into thoughtfulness.