From a recent Toronto Star article: An April 2005 article in the Australian Book Review complained that “literary fiction is losing market share to memoirs and genre fiction.” The Sept. 10 Publishers Weekly repeated the phrase “literary fiction has lost its authority in the culture,” often heard in publishing industry circles.
And my response…so what? I’ve never understood the word ‘culture’. Shouldn’t culture be whatever people are doing, being, thinking, watching, reading? Not something that someone from another era thinks is important.
The reason literary fiction is declining is because NO ONE reads it. There’s no need to try to save it. If people don’t want to read it, they won’t. Our culture, for better or worse, is Survivor, mass market novels, Dexter, 30 Rock…
In Canada, literary fiction is supported heavily by subsidies (your money) while genre fiction doesn’t have that luxury. Which is strange, because if it sells, and lots of people read it, isn’t that culture? Not the book that only 100 people read?
Culture is just a society’s interests…and when those interests change, there doesn’t have to be the gnashing of teeth to save something…that no one wants to save.
I hear what you’re saying — that what is provided is what drives the population to follow. I would say that’s definately true in the US….
I have no problems getting on their soapboxes, but if I’m going to PAY for it, then yes, I have a very real problem.
In Canada, ‘literary fiction’ is supported heavily by subsidies. I understand the concept behind it, but then have equal opportunity for other genres.
In Toronto, how long have they been trying to build Harborfront…with tax payer money, to support ‘culture’.
I guess I’m a capitalist…if it can’t survive on its own, then it can’t really be defined as our culture — because no one is watching it.
Though I HATE Survivor, Britney, etc, those are the defining characteristics of the American culture. Not ballet.
For the most part I agree though some things face extinction, and if someone wants to get up on a soap box and bang a pot about it, by all means have your say. As long as I don’t have to agree or support it by default.
And while culture is Survivor and Britney, there’s a lot to be said about how and why we face that saturation. Does society crave that subject matter by accident? Or are we coached there, by flipping through 300 channels of the same thing. Who decides what is popular? Society. Or a publishing company that focuses on topic du jour.
So perhaps literary fiction is also not being read because it’s hard to find because other things are being peddled (though admittedly I know nothing about books sales, popularity and what gets published) But if someone wants to get all uppity about it, I gotta think at least there’s someone out there caring enough about it. Albeit it the 100 people jilted their genre is on the outs. Its good for books all the around, is it not?
Great line from a Disposable Heroes of Hypocrisy song (Television), I am sure you’ve heard: “Television is it the reflector or the director?” Bands popularity used to be judged by record sales in which case if a label wanted to ‘promote’ band, they’d just go buy up all the albums in the stores and shelf them. So cultural consent, can be manufactured. And no one seems to care about that.
And that is what I think the true problem these days is people not caring enough, consuming culture because its there. Not necessarily because its what inspires them.