I started reading Dennis LeHane’s Mystic River today and was hooked. I should read more crime fiction, more popular fiction, I thought. And then I came across a sentence that showed me the difference between popular fiction and literary fiction.
On its own this sentence I am going to share is sort of funny. Slightly amusing one liner. But in the context of a scene trying to build suspense? In the context of a serious work of fiction? It’s cringeworthy!
Are you ready…
( I hope I haven’t built this up too much, because it’s not that bad.)
Jimmy hadn’t seen anything resembling this kind of chaos since the last time he’d attended an Irish wedding with an open bar… (70)
There you have it. My conceited judgement.
Cliff Burns said:
I enjoyed MYSTIC RIVER but nothing else by Mr. LeHane has grabbed me in the same way. My favorite line has always been the opening sentence of Elmore Leonard’s GLITZ: “The night Vincent got shot, he saw it coming”. Wow…
Is there a real difference between writing disciplines? There are the “Popular writers” who write for a specific, albeit large, market and then there are AUTHORS who write for another, smaller, market of readers who look beyond the surface into unsuspected depths. Each is writing for a specific market and sometimes I feel there is a jealousy between the two. Popular writers want to be recognised as AUTHORS while AUTHORS wish their books would sell in the millions with a film deal thrown in. Poets and Lyricists have a similar jealousy while journalists are considered to be beneath consideration.
As to the sentence, a similar line would fit satisfyingly into “Under Milkwood” or some of Kerouak’s writings; possibly Peter Carey would use a variant. (I won’t suggest Dickens as I consider him a fraud foisted onto the Literary public. A jumped-up journalist.) I think it all depends on context and the image an author is attempting to create for the reader.
Hey Cliff – thanks for stopping by. I like that line too. I should give Leonard a go.
Archie, thanks for your intelligent comment. I agree there’s jealousy. My two favourite writers are literary writers who have achieved popular success – Auster and McEwan.
I think there is a difference between literary and popular, but there is also a spectrum. I was trying to express something I couldn’t quite get to in this post – the sense of why Mystic River was annoying me so much (despite a good plot and some great writing in patches). It had something to do with its cliches, with its tone which lent itself to readers who weren’t properly engaged and a writer who wasn’t trying to do anything new. I encounter that each time I read ‘popular fiction’ – in differing degrees. (Of course, traces of it are also found in some literary fiction.)
there is a difference between both of them popular fiction have those kind of books which are popular in the society like The Holy Bible is the popular book but its not the literary fiction literary fiction is deep in there words and meanings where as popular fiction is popular whether it is sensible or not any 1 have read it or not . i am the student of popular fiction and i know how difficult to read it and how we collect data for it , its not a sweet cake without having any thing u have to give your exam . i have my exam on 29th of jav 2009 and two days before m writing this because i dn’t have the matter and i am fed up off finding it on net … bye take cre …. stay awy from popular fiction but it is interesting …….