Thursday, May 30, 2013

What is this Literary Fiction of Which You Speak? (Armchair BEA, Day 3)

Oohh, literary fiction. What a problematic term you are. 

But I'm not here to investigate the vagaries of literary fiction. I've already done that here and here.

I tend to read in trends. That is, I can look back at any given year and see some overwhelming leanings. A few years ago I overtly and quite publicly challenged myself to read largely literary fiction. 

In fact, after that year of trying to read as much lit-fic as possible and a little reflection, I came up with this definition.
After these seven months of ruminating, I've pretty much decided that literary fiction is fiction marketed as literary fiction. I think I'm also still keen on my original definition that, "authors who write literary fiction might have more of an agenda than the average bear." Literary fiction is also (typically) critically well-received.This is the trifecta, you see: agenda, marketing, critical reception.
And OMG, I said I wasn't going to investigate its vagaries and whatnot. I'm so distractable. ANYWAY, for toothy discussions of what literary fiction is to me and the readers here, read those posts I linked up top. The comments were really thought provoking.

NOW, I'm gonna get back to something I meant to do which is introduce you to some of my favorite and LEAST FAVORITE (oh, I'm going there!) literary fiction.

Those Which I Love With All My Heart


  • Beasts, a novella, by Joyce Carol Oates - disturving, dark, SO very Oates
  • Everything Beautiful Began After, by Simon Van Booy - beautiful language, great twists
  • The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters - beautifully written, creepy as hell
  • The Blindfold, by Siri Hustvedt - odd, thought provoking, tackles issues
  • The New York Trilogy, by Paul Auster - unusual, clever, postmodern

Those Which Belongeth Under a Garbage Truck


  • The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold - I kept waiting to be affected.
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan - I wanted to stab myself in the eyeballs.
  • Empire Falls by Richard Russo - Ugh. Made me dislike Pulitzers for a while. 
Ok, I really thought there would be more losers, but it's official. These are the three literary fiction titles I dislike the most. Possibly because I'm not opposed to STOPPING reading books when I don't like them. For whatever reason, I endured with these. 

So tell me...which books would be on your best and worst lists? 

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