Sorry I -- again -- posted to the wrong place. There's an interesting piece in The Daily Beast by Justin Peacock about crime writing v "literary writing. Wonder what people think about his conclusions. Best, Lee Lamothe
Thanks, Jack. Good article. I really liked the definition of social novel (which pretty much eliminates social agendas). I also liked the dig at Agatha Christie cozies. Much too superficial. But there are other aspects of the human experience that mysteries/crime novels can probe, those more closely related to the individual.
Sorry about that lack of link thing. I'm lucky I can sign into the site. Would love to see how this article translates into the reality of crime writing as far as writers and readers are concerned. I see this Getze guy linked it up. Thx Jack. Lee Lamothe
Quoting from Peacock's article---. The contemporary literary novel’s disinterest in plotting is a recent phenomenon, co-created by the rise of MFA programs and post-modernism
THANKS YOU! SO TRUE. The rise of MFA programs and post-modernism has been wreaking havoc on almost every art form except those that insist on being incomprehensible. It has made deep inroads into poetry and the visual arts. The post-modernist aim is to "disorient" us, to pull the rug out from under our expectations---where we expect meaning, or a logical conclusion, the post-modernist revels in showing us that the world is merely a fragmented mess, and that we can't expect any satisfaction or any meaning from the constructions we make of it.
Whereas the best crime fiction communicates. It takes the reader into its confidence. Its aim is to pull away layers of obfuscation, to seek answers. Even if the answers aren't the ones we always want. Maybe in the end murder is incomprehensible. But the best crime fiction is an attempt to understand.
Maybe this is one reason why I enjoy reading crime fiction! It's not just for breakfast anymore. At its best, it explores the social milieu, human passions and obsessions, and does so very directly. I've always held that Ruth Rendell is a great novelist not only because she knows how to plot an intricate story and generate suspense, but because I come away with a sense of having experienced a world I might not otherwise have been privileged to enter. (And she was a great lover of Dickens as well).
Crime writers,it'a good reason to hone your craft and stick with your genre! Sure, I read contemporary fiction. I read murder mysteries! :)) When I want something else, I often go a lot further back in time.
You're welcome, Benjamin.
In fact, this article was kind of a revelation for me--sometimes I feel I have to justify my long time and continuing interest in mysteries.
I have also always loved reading poetry, and still do---when I can comprehend it. I am no dummy. Am well read, and don't give up on "difficult." But there are an AWFUL LOT of postmodernist poets out there, and I swear, I read this stuff--even with an open mind---and have NO IDEA what they are talking about. I've discussed it with a friend of mine who is a very find poet, with 7 books published by a prestigious university press, and she said the SAME THING: the profliferation of MFAs. They promote each other, extol their brilliance. And I think,
Heck, I didn't think I was stupid---but maybe I was wrong!
I hope no one starts writing POST MODERNIST MURDER MYSTERIES.
If they do--head 'em off at the pass!
The poem is actually about watching "Cops" reruns.
And what a poetic theme! :D
The post-modernist poets are pretty subtle---it SOUNDS as though they are writing poetry, but nothing coheres. (I could use concrete examples, but this is not a poetry forum after all). I just use them to make a point.
Heck, even the great surrealist poets like Lorca and Neruda ultimately made sense!
But the "new" poetry is deliberately "about" language.
I suppose a "post-modern" detective novel would use all the traditional "devices" to generate suspense, drop clues, etc.----then leave you suspended. Pages of dialogue, speculation by the detectives, would lead to....NADA. Water under the fog. And the joke's on YOU, the READER! :/body>
Peacock's comments are timely or, if anything, overdue given that crime fiction has exhibited a strong social context for at least three decades, probably longer, and certainly Price, Lehane and Rendell are just three examples of leading lights in that respect. Reading through the posts here it seems there's been an undercurrent of thought on this subject for quite some time, so if Peacock's article helps bring that discussion more to the fore, then so be it.
It's also true of some works in other thriller fiction genres. On the subject of long-term child kidnap, and its personal, psychological and social implications, both David Morrell's 'Long Lost,' and Emma Donoghue's 'Room,' are insightful and profoundly moving.
It's interesting to note that the classic novelists whose works gave us a social insight into their times (whether it's Dickens, Hugo or others) were also known as the great storytellers. Ultimately it's the craftmanship in telling the tale and revealing the characters that expands the mirror we hold up to the world around us. So take that, post modern.
And let's hope it will always be OK to read it at brekkie, Caroline, lol.