I keep reading things about how we’re supposed to read the classics, or we’re supposed to appreciate genre fiction more. And then the New Yorker’s so-called sci-fi issue features a whole bunch of essays about the precise moment of childhood when the writer realized that there was a distinction between literary fiction and genre fiction, and started lying about what he or she liked to read.
Enough already, people. The existence of a genre-literary distinction is interesting, and debates about where that line lies are interesting, and questions of how and why we value certain kinds of literature are also interesting. Up. To. A. Point.
At the risk of seeming like I’m taking sides, I’m going to quote Shirley Hazzard’s response to Stephen King at the 2003 National Book Awards:
I don’t see this as ‘we should read this or we should read that.’ We have mysterious inclinations. We have our own intuitions, our individuality toward what we want to read, and we developed that from childhood. We don’t know why. Nobody can explain it to us.
Or to paraphrase God:
To you your books and to me mine.
I like Michael Ondaatje and Robin McKinley. I like E.M. Forster and Ursula LeGuin. I like Jhumpa Lahiri and Tamora Pierce.
You like what you like. It’s all good as long as people keep reading.
So, what are you waiting for? Go read, everyone!