When you're busy burning the midnight oil, you have to be careful not to spill it. That stuff is flamable.
I posted the other day about genre titles, a topic that I got started thinking about by reading a friend's blog. I intended to disagree with some of the points that she had made in her original post, and I think mine was written poorly enough to give credit for opinions where it most certainly was not due. Sarahlynn did not, to my recollection, ever say that romance novels were about mindless sex. No, years of hearing the terms "bodice ripper", "sex book", "porn for women" have made that impression quite deeply on me. I got in the habit early on of keeping my paperbooks in a discreet fabric cover--simply keeping Fabio out of view helped stop a lot of those comments and looks.
Nor did she ever say that something that was not considered "literary fiction" could not be character-driven. What Sarahlynn did say was, "I would say, however, that literary fiction is generally character-driven, rather than structurally driven (that sounds more like experimental literature to me, though I'm no expert)".
Depending on what you consider to be the "structure" of a novel, however, that statement can certainly be interpreted a couple of ways (Is the structure the chronology of scenes? Is it the point of view of the narrator? Is it the choice of beginning and ending points? Is it the choices of what scenes are included or excluded? Some combination?) My mind took off on one direction, and my fingers followed along on the keyboard.
For the record, I do not know that I agree with literary fiction "generally" being character-driven. I have read a great deal that is. But there are quite a few examples where the characters are really an accessory to the story (anything by Michener comes to mind, as does 100 years of solitude, which Oprah seems to have made popular lately). I believe I've seen one of my favorite authors, Isabel Allende, frequently shelved under "literary fiction", when her stories have as much plot (and even more political commentary) as they do any sort of emotional transformation of the characters.
Her lesson on logic is a good one. A implies B does not mean that B implies A. Even when B is the opposite of A. Tautology. I'm not sure I'd head the exact term for it before, but am also quite familiar with the logic. The biggest problem with this is that A->B really says nothing about what B implies. It could imply A. It just doesn't have to. If you don't specify, then it's open to interpretation. This is a lesson that in computers you sometimes learn the hard way, when your computer crashes because of a bug because you forgot to fully specify your parameters. It is a lesson that I myself forgot as I quoted one inspiration for my train of thoughts, but forgot to mention that I was reacting to a lot morethan just what Sarahlynn had recently posted. It is natural to conclude that my entire statement was a reaction to her opinons, and it was not.
I realize today in re-reading my own post(s), that I actually left out a point of my own. One comment from Sarahlynn's blog post that totally blew my mind was "The Time Traveler's Wife taught me that people can fuck in contemporary literary fiction." I was shocked. Not that people fuck in contemporary literary fiction, but that her blog announced it like it was breaking news. I guess we've read different sets of books all this time. I was under the impression that many authors who were shelved under "literary fiction" relished their "edgy" voices and frolicked in explicit details of their characters lives. I've read a few who even let their characters make love. But that distinction is a completely different discussion topic.
I do enjoy debate, and I will attempt to ensure that my own commentary shows the proper credit and respect for anyone I am referencing. I will continue to read Sarahlynn's blog (and posting comments, unless she decides to block me...) because I find her opinions and topics to be very thought provoking. I do apologize if anything I wrote painted an incorrect picture of her opinions. That was never my intention. I will not apologize for disagreeing on various subjects. That would be a silly (and dishonest) thing for me to say. I look forward to reading any responses (positive, negative, and sincerely hope to be able to toast the publication of her novel at some point. From her little snippets, it sounds like one I would pick up to read even if I didn't know the author :)