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What I think many aspiring "literary" writers forget is that if you fail to entertain, you fail, period. After all, there's no rule that good fiction must be difficult. As I recall, Shakespeare moves along at a pretty good clip, with lots of fights and murders and such (no explosions, though).

And - in my opinion - attempting to create "fine writing" leads to pretentious prose, and pretension is absolutely deadly to a story. Just get the job done, people.

Maybe writing programs should require a study of Richard Stark.

I'm not a big Tom Wolfe fan, but he said something in a Time magazine article a few months back that really struck a chord with me. Now I'm paraphrasing here, but here's more or less what he said:
"MFA's are ruining literature. Look at Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Faulkner, they maybe have a semester of college between the three of them."
I tend to agree with him on this point. (Sorry, Neil, or any other MFA/doctoral folks out there.)Honestly, I've never gotten the whole snobbery thing when it comes to books, movies, music, etc., You like what you like and that's it. But I refuse to buy into what passes for so-called "literary" fiction these days, especially among the collegiate journals, which, lately when I've been reading them, the stories read more like over long prose poems.
When I want to read a story, I want a story: Beginning, middle, end and not meandering reflection.

And as far as guilty pleasures are concerned, hell, half of my library is stuffed full of them. Same with my DVD collection. (Music, yeah, I'll admit, I'm a bit of a snob.) But all of of these things are entertainment, and I want to be entertained, damn it! What I don't want is to admire how wonderfully a grad student can play with words.

I have to agree with you, Neil. Granted, I'm only teaching High Schoolers, here, but pretty much all of my kids want to write genre of one sort or another. I encourage it. When I took a 'writer's studio' course in H.S. myself, my teacher was exactly the kind of snob you're talking about. For her, in every fucking story, someone had to end up tragically dead and everyone else had tospend the remainder of the story in one morose, long-winded mood or another. It was All. So. BORING.

I teach my kids to write what they like to read, because that's what I do and what most of the published authors I read have said they do. Oh, and I love bands like Metallica, Velvet Revolver, Shinedown, and even Nickelback, as well as their prodigy band, Theory of a Deadman. But I also like some old school blues every now and then, so I'm not sure if that makes me a slob, a snob, or just diversified....

For the record, I like Lee Child and Sheryl Crow.

I, too, think that there are too many "literary" writers who are trying too hard and thus producing books that everyone may talk about but who's really reading them? And you know who those authors are...

Personally, I'd rather be a popular genre writer who's read than an obscure "literary" writer who isn't.

(And I really hate those labels. Why can't I be "literary," too? I mean, I write books same as anyone, which is literature, no matter the subject. Chaucer wrote bawdy tales that certainly were not "literary" of his time but now look at him.)

You may not know this about me, but I really like girly pop songs...

Regarding Nickelback, they are brilliant. It sounds like rock, but it's as safe as Kenny G. soft jazz. Reminds me of when I worked at Record Town and parents wanted to get their kids a rap record, but didn't want any of that hard edged stuff. "MC Hammer is what you want." Never had a dissatisfied customer.

Over my break, I read THE WATCHMEN and AMERICAN WIFE -- and saw the Harry Potter movie. LOVED the hell out of all of 'em. Ever since I got out of college, where The Replacements were considered way too mainstream, I've liked what I like, plain and simple. That includes some pretty obscure and/or critically lauded literature, indie films and alt rock as well as best sellers, girly pop songs, blockbusters and American Idol. I'd rather enjoy art than analyze it. (And I love both Lee Child AND HOGDOGGIN', which I just started because I'd forgotten to pack it but am burning through. You're a sick man, Neil!) I hate Michael Bay.

Something's wrong with my brain suddenly--my three favorite movies this summer were Star Trek, The Hangover and UP. Deep down in the hipster reptile part of said brain, I feel like I should hate anything that popular. But there you are.

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