Monday, 18 October 2010

Is it not time to kiss and make up?

Okay, I'm fed up. In the last few days (actually, weeks, months and years) there have been discussions like this and statements like: Proposition: We read SF to show how clever we are. We read litfic to show how clever we *think* we are. I've seen people ask: Are we, as SFF readers, our own worst enemy in marginalising our own genre?

At the same time, I've also been looked down on for participating in X Factor discussions on Twitter. People sneer at the fact I like entertainment shows. They've also said (not the same people) that I feature far too much literary fiction on my blog (which is odd considering my blog is called Floor to Ceiling Books!)

I think it is time for us to kiss and make up! I recently wrote this post, declaring my love for all books, and struck a chord with a few people. I also did a review of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - a literary book rather than SF but one that absolutely should be read as widely as possible.

There are awesome literary books. There are fabulous SF books. In my opinion X Factor has as much merit as Newsnight in entertainment terms. I want us to join collectively and declare our love for BOOKS. (You don't need to declare your love for X Factor - I just want you to accept that everyone likes different things!)

All books are literary - they are literature. I am tired of having my book choices analysed and criticised. I am tired of all these barriers. Some authors such as Michael Marshall Smith are writing fabulous novels that cross all genres and enrich the lives of anyone who reads them. They might never win an award (although I think MMS has?) but who cares? I recognise them for being excellent, thought-provoking and enjoyable.

Okay, it seems as though it is my turn to rant! But I reiterate: can't we all kiss and make up?


  1. I think everyone should read what they want! And while I don't watch x-factor, I used to watch America's Next Top Model religiously and am now addicted to Glee, which might be frowned upon by some as well.

    And I think the fact that I mastered in Book & Publishing (even though I didn't finish it) and that I am now a librarian should be a good clue to anyone that I love books ;)

  2. I've always worked under the assumption that not everyone is going to like exactly the same things as me. Doesn't matter if it's TV, music,books, politics (the list goes on an on). Everyone is entitled to their views and they should be respected for them even if you dont necessarily agree. It is nice when interests converge but its not the end of the world when they dont. I'm not a fan of XFactor but if you are then enjoy. I'm not going to watch but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. I have a passion for crappy B-movies. Some would view them with scorn. I find them more interesting than most blockbusters. Each to their own. If something speaks to you on any level you can appreciate then enjoy it, revel in it and share it.

  3. I like variety and mixing genres and see nothing wrong in it. I think it's exciting when people start reading outside their comfort zones. I know I don't do it as much as I should (as there's never enough time, too many books, etc) but you never know when you might come across a gem that you never expected.

  4. No, it's gone way too far for that. Too much has been said, too much has been done. A vast fracture, deep as an ocean trench, has been wrought between our two houses. This fued must end in blood - enough to drown the world. The sky shall be painted black.

    (In other words, they started it)

  5. Beh, as long as people of both sides of the fence see what it is they are doing as different this discussion is going to keep reappearing. Quite frankly I couldn't care less who wins the Booker prize, or the Hugo for that matter. It's all highly subjective anyway.

  6. I get fed up with snobby readers (they all have the right books on their shelves, but you have to wonder if they have actually read any of them!) and snobby telly watchers annoy me too. I don't watch any telly, so I don't keep track of XFactor, CSI, Catherine Tate... or anything really, but honestly - does it matter what you what you watch? Why do others feel so strongly about critising what you chose to watch/read/enjoy? I agree with Val - it's all highly subjective. And each one to his own. I have a friend who declares (very loudly) that she watches no soaps and reads no gossip mags. But - when she comes to visit me, the first thing she asks is where are my mags and then curls up in a corner on the sofa eagerly devouring every one! Ha!

  7. It's very strange, when people judge what you read. Anyway, I wonder how much a person has really read if they can dismiss whole genres.

  8. I love reading the occasional literary novel or even classic. If you don't like someone's blog, don't visit it. If you want to complain, write your own blog and I'll be sure not to visit it. :)

  9. I'll sneer at you if you want me to.

    Only I'm going to be creative about what I judge you for. See, you live in the UK, which means you have awesome food, great chocolate and fantastic alcohol but you talk funny and that's just not cool. It also means that all the books I read that were first published in the UK have these annoying "ou"'s in them and "re"'s in their words. That CLEARLY proves that your books aren't as good as mine. Thus, my taste in literature is far superior to yours. Duh.

    Okay, seriously I hope you realize my snark when you see it.

    These SFF blogosphere discussions going around are mind-numbingly ridiculous. I wish every single one of these discussions could fade into history. When the crap did reading/blogging become such a contest and battle of wits? Who cares? Read what you want, and if someone has a problem with that send them some knitting needles and yarn in the mail and tell them to do something productive with their time.... like knit a scarf. Hey, winter is coming up. That could be a good thing to get started on.

    Sorry for the rant and the ridiculous sarcasm I used to open this post. I guess I'm really sick of all this stupid drama going on (even though it's not aimed at me. I bet it's way more tiring for you!). I wish we could all just shut up, take a breath, kiss each other and move on.

    Anyway, chin up.

  10. I was standing behind a guy in the toilet queue (always a good start to a story) at the marathon this weekend. He was telling someone else that he knew there were runners from his room there at the event, but none of them could break 3.5 hours - in a manner that suggested they were, therefore, not worth talking to.

    Which I thought was kind of sad. People enjoy stuff, but some people seem to enjoy pooping on other people's enjoyment of stuff a little bit more, and it just...disappoints me. I don't watch the X factor but I can appreciate the comedy appeal (especially that of Wagner) - what does it matter that it's popcorn entertainment to fill out Saturday night when you don't feel like going out?

  11. Live and let read, that's what I say.

  12. The literary fiction vs genre discussion is here to stay I think. At least as long as literary fiction is not considered a genre by its "fans".

    Just the name is enough to make this discussion neverending, "Literary", as every other book is not literature. Unfortunately that is the impression the name gives to those who read few or no books.

    Let's call it a genre, and give it a name.
    I'm as diplomatic as an axe to the head so I suggest "snob-fiction" or "I'd sell my children for a Nobel price-fiction".

    But I do agree that we should respect everyone's reading choices.
    If someone finds objective criteria for what is a good book, all reviewing will be done by computers, and reviewers will be a thing of the past.

  13. I’m in two minds on how to a respond.

    I’m all for read what you want and I’ve been known to shout that loud and clear and I mostly that’s a good thing. I’d happily standup for anyone to read whatever they want (as long as they are legal - you have to have caveats ;)) but I’d also like to think that there is no reason to worry but there is a fissure that won’t close. Don’t you want authors and their publishers to also keep their game high? And for those heights to be recognised as just great writing rather than would be great writing if it didn’t have this space ship in it?

    It might be tired argument but one side isn’t listening especially when Andrew Motion doesn’t need to prioritise our best because we have our own prizes. WTF? What does that matter? Aren’t they supposed to be judging ‘blind’ instead of making some ‘politicalised’ statement.

    I don’t think it hurts genre to have this discussion but allows up to name and celebrate those authors that would be put on a pedestal for the world to see

  14. Here here! Fantasy, science fiction and horror account for about 70% of my reading on a yearly basis, but the other 30% consists mostly of general and/or literary fiction, mysteries and creative nonfiction--which I feel like a lot of sffh fans look down on. I feel like I'm too niche for mainstream readers, but not niche enough for sff readers. It's frustrating, because it's not something I can--or want to--do anything about. I love those sorts of books, and I don't want to quit reading or reviewing them.

  15. The problem is that X-Factor is not 'an entertainment show' it is very specifically a music show and by its own admission an attempt to manipulate popular music. If it were purely entertainment then the winners wouldn't be hyped into the charts every year crossing over into a field where millions of talented musicians struggle to make a living purely because Simon Cowell doesn't like their style of music.
    X Factor is based on dishonesty and prejudice by Mr Cowell for his own pure financial gain.
    If it were not, if as its defenders claim, it is about popular music, then why will we never see acts in the vein of the most successful UK acts of the past thirty years, people who have sold more albums and concert tickets than Take That and The Spice Girls combined? (note I actually admire TT, they do their stuff extremely well, but their total sales are less than just one album by AC/DC (4/5ths UK born though Australian in most peoples eyes)) Why are artists never allowed to perform their own type of music or their own interpretations? Again, not looking down on cover versions but i don't see the point of trying to sound like the original. Hence my cheap photocopy analogy on twitter.
    What gave The Beatles or Michael Jackson or Bruce Springsteen or Iron Maiden or Depeche Mode or Public Enemy or Prince or Elvis or Johnny Cash or Aretha Franklin or Madonna or Dylan or Led Zeppelin the 'X Factor' was that they didn't sound just like everyone else, that they didn't record what they were ordered to record in a style that somebody else chose.

    Most people don't actively seek out music or books the way we do, they choose from what they are exposed to by Radio the papers and Asda. X Factor's hype machine reinforces a very narrow status quo by dominating that exposure almost totally in many peoples lives, and that is why it is iniquitous and needs countering at all opportunities.

    And as for quality in literature, why accept anything less? Of course you need to define quality but how about this:
    A good plot in bad prose is not quality.
    Good prose with a bad plot is not quality.
    (Great prose with minimal plot can be beautiful, no plot is not the same as a bad plot.)
    As paying readers we are entitled to demand excellence in the same way that you would stop buying X's bread if it was always stale. Why tolerate and encourage mediocrity?
    -- Kev McVEigh