jump to navigation

05-04-09: Literary Fiction, open chat

The transcript below covers the complete #litchat conversation on May 4, 2009. The order appears sequentially from the first post to the final post. Topic was open discussion of literary fiction.

LitChat: Welcome to #litchat. We’re talking this week about literary fiction. Starting now.
susanmpls: how are you defining literary fiction? not genre? #litchat
thebookmaven: Hi there, @litchat.Looking forward to this discussion! #litchat
julichilliard: @LitChat Be right with you. Have to take time to store my work! #litchat
ThereseWalsh: RT @LitChat: Welcome to #litchat. We’re talking this week about literary fiction. Starting now.
julichilliard: RT @ThereseWalsh RT @LitChat: Welcome to #litchat. We’re talking this week about literary fiction. Starting now.
LitChat: Q1: What sets literary fiction apart from general fiction. #litchat
paradisekitten: @ThereseWalsh RT @LitChat: Welcome to #litchat. We’re talking this week about literary fiction. Starting now.
balletbookworm: @LitChat excellent! what’s on tap? #litchat
thebookmaven: @LitChat I recently saw an author answer this, but of course, can I remember that answer now, let alone author’s name? 😉 #litchat
thebookmaven: I do think literary fiction is about not falling into well-worn grooves of narrative, but about going deeper. #litchat
EliseBlackwell: I’d argue that literary fiction pursues truth about the human condition & aspires to be read in the future as well as the present. #litchat
susanmpls: @EliseBlackwell I disagree. Fiction that stands the test of time has universal theme, not necessarily based on literariness. #litchat
ThereseWalsh: #litchat literary fiction can be entirely character driven–plot optional.
thebookmaven: @EliseBlackwell What she said. I think the “future” part is important, not b/c genre fiction isn’t aiming for future… #litchat
balletbookworm: @LitChat I guess higher-level usage (advanced vocabulary, complicated plot design, controversial plot elements) #litchat
BrooksSigler: Yes, @EliseBlackwell. One would hope literary fiction has staying power. #litchat
thebookmaven: @EliseBlackwell …but b/c lit fic also *considers* the future. #litchat
EliseBlackwell: Quality of language is important, too, and as @thebookmaven pts out, avoiding cliches of plot. #litchat #litchat
DavidRozansky: @LitChat The difference btwn litfic and genfic is attitude of author. Is author trying to be commercial or artistic? #litchat
BrooksSigler: @DavidRozansky Well, art to some is not art to others, right? #litchat
WayneHurlbert: @LitChat Literary fiction explores the deeper themes of the human condition & the story & characters are symbolic of those themes #litchat
BrooksSigler: Can one be both commercial and artistic? #litchat
jaypers: What’s considered the best lit. fic book ??? #litchat
thebookmaven: @BrooksSigler I believe one can be both, but only a few are successful in so doing. #litchat
bhalpin: @LitChat Literary fiction seems to be language driven rather than plot or character driven. #litchat
DavidRozansky: @BrooksSigler Yes, one can be both. This is why they are often shelved together. Sometimes people buy art bcs they like it. #litchat
BrooksSigler: @thebookmaven That’s true. I do marvel at those authors. #litchat
thebookmaven: @jaypers Now THAT is a big question. One contenda would have to be EMPIRE FALLS. #litchat
EliseBlackwell: @BrooksSigler Sometimes, absolutely, but most literary fiction writers aren’t aiming FOREMOST for commerical success. #litchat
WayneHurlbert: @BrooksSigler Strong commercial sales & high literary quality are not mutually exclusive. That is a false dichotomy #litchat
VanessaDobbs: @bhalpin I agree #LitChat
EliseBlackwell: @jaypers Too hard to answer, but certainly writers like Michael Ondaatje, Anne Michaels, and so on would be on the list. #litchat
thebookmaven: So another question: Which authors are both commercial AND artistic? #litchat
susanmpls: Lit.fic is about the writing itself. I think of it: opera is to theatre as litfic is to bks #litchat
julichilliard: #litchat Agree with @bhalpin that language is what drives literary fiction, & with @waynehurlbert about deeper themes/characters.
ThereseWalsh: #litchat But don’t you think it’s short sighted to assume genre means the plot is simple and cliched, and the vocab is not advanced?
BrooksSigler: Would you consider Kite Runner to be commercial and artistic? Atonement? #litchat
julichilliard: #litchat I know it when I see it. I feel it.
thebookmaven: @EliseBlackwell @BrooksSigler Exactly, Elise. The aim is to create something with integrity. #litchat
RichRennicks: @DavidRozansky Surely diff btwn litfic & genfic is subject matter? Quality of lang & originality should be imp to writers of both. #litchat
VanessaDobbs: @BrooksSigler I would ;also Birdsong #LitChat
EliseBlackwell: @ThereseWalsh Some genre fiction is also literary fiction; most isn’t. #litchat
julichilliard: #litchat I don’t think literary fiction is limited as to subject matter.
thebookmaven: @julichilliard Not limited as to subject matter at ALL. Lit fiction’s beauty is that it can address every perspective, every area. #litchat
julichilliard: RT @EliseBlackwell: @ThereseWalsh Some genre fiction is also literary fiction; most isn’t. #litchat
balletbookworm: Stewart O’Nan always seems to bring another element to a topic and sell well at the same time #litchat
WayneHurlbert: @julichilliard Agreed. There is no limit on subject matter for literary fiction. #litchat
ThereseWalsh: I agree. RT @julichilliard: #litchat I know it when I see it. I feel it.
EliseBlackwell: I have to run now, but I’m looking forward to popping in Wednesday and hosting LitChat on Friday! #litchat
thebookmaven: @EliseBlackwell Can’t wait for that! #litchat
LitChat: Q2: Why is it so difficult to get literary fiction published? #litchat
jdistraction: @thebookmaven I agree lit fiction is maybe freer to explore subjects. But it’s harder to identify the market. #litchat
Thandelike: Kite runner struck me as commercial fiction masquerading as literary fiction (Rushdie wannabe) #litchat
ohbutmeow: @thebookmaven I’d go with Neil Gaiman – he’s an awesome writer, and very successful commercially. #litchat
atrubek: Michael Chabon @thebookmaven so another question: Which authors are both commercial AND artistic? #litchat
thebookmaven: @jdistraction Perfect for @litchat’s Q2. There isn’t clearly defined demo for most lit fic. #litchat
pirateannie: @LitChat Because it has no $$ value in mass market. #litchat
julichilliard: @jdistraction Maybe it’s possible to go sooo deep that your market is limited. Too out-there. #litchat
ThereseWalsh: I think it’s probably difficult to get literary fiction published because it’s hard to summarize the story in a oneline. #litchat
corb21: @BrooksSigler @EliseBlackwell @thebookmaven #litchat What exactly makes up “literary fiction?” Does something like “Wicked” count?
thebookmaven: @atrubek I may have to start a new blog/list for the commercially successful lit-fic authors. 😉 #litchat
ThereseWalsh: …and then there’s that matter of literary fiction generally (generally) not selling as well as commercial. #litchat
jdistraction: Do we mean “commerical” or “mainstream”? Commercial seems determinable only after publication – what sells… #litchat
jaypers: Best selling literary fiction book? Or one of the best sellers? #litchat
WayneHurlbert: @balletbookworm There is often an air of snobbery about literary fiction that it’s not supposed to sell well. That needs to change #litchat
julichilliard: ThereseWalsh. Is it? #litchat
DavidRozansky: @BrooksSigler True, but I tend to go with th attitude of the author, which is usually apparent. #litchat
LitChat: @BrooksSigler I think both of these are examples of authors with suberb storytelling and creativity. #litchat
BrooksSigler: @ThereseWalsh Yes, literary fiction can be hard to categorize for a market. #litchat
tullymcq: A lot of fiction will become “literary” only with time. #litchat
VanessaDobbs: @atrubek Ian Mcewan Sebastian faulkes Khaled Hosseini… #LitChat
balletbookworm: not to completely diss on genre-fiction, but literary fiction doesn’t really have a built-in audience #litchat
biblioaddict: @LitChat Because literary fiction requires its readers to think, which doesn’t always sell well. #litchat
corb21: @BrooksSigler @EliseBlackwell @thebookmaven #litchat What exactly makes up “literary fiction?” Does something like “Wicked” count?
thebookmaven: @atrubek I may have to start a new blog/list for the commercially successful lit-fic authors. 😉 #litchat
ThereseWalsh: …and then there’s that matter of literary fiction generally (generally) not selling as well as commercial. #litchat
jdistraction: Do we mean “commerical” or “mainstream”? Commercial seems determinable only after publication – what sells… #litchat
jaypers: Best selling literary fiction book? Or one of the best sellers? #litchat
WayneHurlbert: @balletbookworm There is often an air of snobbery about literary fiction that it’s not supposed to sell well. That needs to change #litchat
julichilliard: ThereseWalsh. Is it? #litchat
DavidRozansky: @BrooksSigler True, but I tend to go with th attitude of the author, which is usually apparent. #litchat
LitChat: @BrooksSigler I think both of these are examples of authors with suberb storytelling and creativity. #litchat
BrooksSigler: @ThereseWalsh Yes, literary fiction can be hard to categorize for a market. #litchat
tullymcq: A lot of fiction will become “literary” only with time. #litchat
VanessaDobbs: @atrubek Ian Mcewan Sebastian faulkes Khaled Hosseini… #LitChat
balletbookworm: not to completely diss on genre-fiction, but literary fiction doesn’t really have a built-in audience #litchat
biblioaddict: @LitChat Because literary fiction requires its readers to think, which doesn’t always sell well. #litchat
thebookmaven: @corb21 Hmmmm, that’s a good question, too. DOES “Wicked” count? Maguire’s intentions are lit fic, but is aim true? #litchat
BookingIt: @LitChat Lack of sales (in general) implies literary fiction sometime published for prestige, sets a high bar to meet? #litchat
julichilliard: @BrooksSigler: @ThereseWalsh Isn’t literary fiction a category? #litchat
BrooksSigler: I’m no Charles Dickens *gasp* fan, but was he actually considered literary in his day? #litchat
insidebooks: Does an endorsement by Oprah or Richard & Judy undermine literary value? #litchat
susanmpls: It’s harder to get pub b/c it’s harder to sell lots. Genre & gen fict can sell 10K, 20K, 30K+, lit fict sells 2,000 or 5,000. #litchat
thebookmaven: @tullymcq Yes. Time is a refiner’s fire for some books. #litchat
WayneHurlbert: @julichilliard @jdistraction Literary fiction is often difficult to get published because ther is not an obvious movie plot #litchat
BrooksSigler: @julichilliard I think it is a category, but a “moveable feast”? #litchat
Shanster8: @jaypers I dont care abt bestselling but best is Foucault’s Pendulum by Eco. Screw Dan Brown & his made-for-tv shit #litchat
DavidRozansky: @balletbookworm Actually, general fiction does not have a built in market. Thus, teh expression “general.” #litchat
BrooksSigler: @WayneHurlbert lol #litchat
VanessaDobbs: @susanmpls I don’t think so I’ve read bks recommended by R&J that I would not otherwise have picked up #LitChat
BrooksSigler: @Shanster8 Tell us how you really feel! #litchat
jdistraction: @WayneHurlbert Ha! Sad but true! #litchat
corb21: @thebookmaven #litchat, I tend to feel that lit fic is more scholarly…ie: Pride and Prejudice or the like…not mainstream can one cross?
ThereseWalsh: @julichilliard Some think of literary as a genre unto itself, it’s true. We treat it that way on our blog much of the time. #litchat
doart: @litchat well some say that there are more writers than readers. #litchat
balletbookworm: Oprah doesn’t undermine literary value per se, but some of us don’t like to “go with the herd” and look for the non-Oprah covers #litchat
househomeauthor: @WayneHurlbert Great point. My agent said my first novel was “too quiet” for a movie, meaning not enough stuff blows up, I guess. #litchat
tullymcq: One thing that frustrates me about lit fic is the tendency toward a depressing tone. If a work has a light touch it is disqualified #litchat
thebookmaven: @corb21 I think one CAN cross, hence my example of EMPIRE FALLS. Also, Chabon’s KAVALIER & CLAY. Lit fic not always “tweedy.” 😉 #litchat
julichilliard: Can literary fiction be both the best of a genre and its own genre? #litchat
corb21: @BrooksSigler good question, on the broader level, was anyone considered literary fiction in THEIR day? Or is this a later stamp? #litchat
thebookmaven: @balletbookworm HUZZAH! #litchat
susanmpls: @insidebooks No, a rec by a major media personality doesn’t change the qualities of the bk. It just means it will likely sell more. #litchat
doart: @litchat and the general population does like trashy reality shows so who knows what they like to read #litchat
julichilliard: I guess I think of it as “good food.” #litchat
WayneHurlbert: @Shanster8 I have been given two Dan Brown’s including DaVinci. Both are still unread LOL #litchat
Thandelike: @WayneHurlbert strange, today filmmaking tweeple discussing movie tendency to be too much plot — so suffers same fate as litfic! #litchat
jdistraction: @thebookmaven Chabon is an excellent example of lit and accessible. #litchat
thebookmaven: @corb21 @BrooksSigler Dickens was v. v. famous in his day but not as sure of how his books were “placed.” #litchat
jaypers: @Shanster8 HA! Preach it! #litchat
BrooksSigler: Literary fiction is like a handwritten note and commercial like a Hallmark card? #litchat
deberryandgrant: @BrooksSigler Don’t think there were such categories in his day. Publishers didn’t have marketing depts. #litchat
BrooksSigler: @thebookmaven I guess I was thinking of Dickens being a serial writer, if I am not mistaken. #litchat
thebookmaven: @jdistraction Although many would say YIDDISH POLICEMEN’S UNION not as accessible, LOL (I love love loved it). #litchat
corb21: @thebookmaven yes, I suppose. Funny, I read both those in a “contemporary fiction” class, same prof. #litchat
paradisekitten: @biblioaddict My thought also-Genre read=cupcakes-literary read=crepe suzette flambe Genre/lit-fic R mindfood 4 dif tastes&times #litchat
WayneHurlbert: @corb21 @BrooksSigler Often the stamp gets added later. Example: Moby Dick sold 500 copies in Melville’s lifetime. #litchat
thebookmaven: @BrooksSigler That’s a fun division, but I think too restricting. THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN, Kate Morton? Elements of both! #litchat
jdistraction: @thebookmaven Me too! #litchat
julichilliard: #litchat Family home … signing off. Thanks!
corb21: #litchat I’m interested too because it seems contrived to call one’s own book “literary fiction” must others place the title?
BrooksSigler: I have a confession. I really like Moby Dick, but then, I would read a Wheaties box for the sake of reading something. #litchat
deberryandgrant: @BrooksSigler So was Twain for that matter. Now we consider Huck Finn a classic #litchat
VanessaDobbs: @BrooksSigler sounds like me lol #LitChat
WifeofWriter: Any recommendations for “modern” lit fic author who is not so heavy handed with prose. More of a minimalist? #litchat
corb21: #litchat I’m thinking of one new title specifically, where I talked the author OUT of putting it in Lit Fic categories.
jdistraction: @BrooksSigler Wheaties Box… Definitely literary. #litchat
BrooksSigler: @thebookmaven I guess we cannot assign restrictions, can we? The lines are fluid. #litchat
thebookmaven: @BrooksSigler Yes, wrote several serial novels…but those were taken seriously 2 (just did talk on this w/critic Michael Dirda) #litchat
susanmpls: Ingrid Hill’s Ursula, Under is a lovely book–written beautifully, gut-wrenching moments. highly recommend. #litchat
DavidRozansky: When I worked in bookstore in 80’s, literature defined as old enough to be public domain or had become classroom reading #litchat
thebookmaven: @BrooksSigler I think they are — which is sometimes frustrating to publishers! 🙂 #litchat
corb21: @BrooksSigler #litchat, yes, I believe he was. good point.
balletbookworm: @DavidRozansky true, but general fiction doesn’t always mean literary; perhaps it’s more a matter of taste”? #litchat
Thandelike: @WifeofWriter Anne enright is pretty minimalist #litchat
tullymcq: Is effective social commentary be one distinction of Lit Fic? #litchat
paradisekitten: @WifeofWriter More of a minimalist? http://www.jeanettewinterson.com/ Me thinks… #litchat
Shanster8: Dan Brown captures the essence of shit #litchat
LitChat: Q3: Does literary fiction set, follow, or avoid popular lit trends? #litchat
thebookmaven: Man, so many recommendations, so little time…who are best bloggers on lit fic? (@litchat, OK to ask that?) #litchat
VanessaDobbs: @DavidRozansky this was why I never read litfic until 90s as eng lit at school was boring and badly taught #LitChat
WayneHurlbert: Does anyone think the publishing model with its emphasis on lists, positions & huge advances hurts literary titles placed lower? #litchat
BrooksSigler: @thebookmaven Is it bad that I don’t take him seriously? : ) #litchat
thebookmaven: Something’s wonky w/my
VanessaDobbs: tweetchat gone funny #LitChat
corb21: RT @WayneHurlbert: Moby Dick sold 500 copies in Melville’s lifetime. #litchat (something for all authors to consider)
thebookmaven: @WayneHurlbert Probably, but then again, big big titles help pay for lit fic, don’t they? #litchat
VanessaDobbs: tweetchat gone funny missing tweets #litchat
WayneHurlbert: @thebookmaven Yes, big titles pay the bills but with creativity some mid list literary titles could break through in sales too #litchat
jdistraction: I am frozen in Litchat Limbo! Help! #litchat
corb21: @WayneHurlbert too much emnphasis is placed on sales over quality #litchat
thebookmaven: @WayneHurlbert Agreed. But that is another big conversation, isn’t it? #litchat
VanessaDobbs: tweetchat gone down completely so signing off as cannot follow conversation.Hope it’s working wednesday #litchat
corb21: @BrooksSigler I liked Grt Ex. I quote it sometimes and my husband just looks at me funny. #litchat is literature being lost?
WayneHurlbert: @thebookmaven Yes it is 🙂 #litchat
BookRambler: RT @LitChat: Q3: Does literary fiction set, follow, or avoid popular lit trends? #litchat – I’d say all 3 mixed to varying degrees
corb21: @LitChat I think it’s above popularity. Too high-brow to care if it’s liked or not. Like James Joyce. #litchat
BenRubinstein: Hmm. I think lit fic generally avoids trends. However it can generate them. It blurs borders, stretches boundaries. #litchat
WayneHurlbert: @corb21 @BrooksSigler Literature may be getting lst. Quoting poetry, the Bard & classic novels seems to be a lost art #litchat
VanessaDobbs: back again now #litchat
susanmpls: @WayneHurlbert depends on the goal. many indie pubs make great homes for litfic. modest sales, but find a devoted audience #litchat
deberryandgrant: @LitChat it can do any of the three can’t it? #litchat
VanessaDobbs: @jdistraction so was I #litchat
jdistraction: @thebookmaven Good point about big titles. *sighs.* #litchat
WayneHurlbert: @househomeauthor When explosions are the preferred substitute for plot you know that reader/viewer is not your likely market LOL #litchat
thebookmaven: Time to sign off…the huzz home soon and I am in, ahem, “blogging attire.” Need grownup clothes! Thanks, @litchat — see you Wed.! #litchat
corb21: @WayneHurlbert I agree, with the dawn of desktop publishing, ebooks, and online texts, some of the art is fading away. #litchat
corb21: @BenRubinstein yes, it can start trends ie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but I feel it doesn’t strive to. #litchat
corb21: @susanmpls that’s why indie pubs rock. #litchat
balletbookworm: reQ3: a bit of all, but I think generally litfic does it’s own thing #litchat
WayneHurlbert: @susanmpls Agreed. Many indie publishers specialize in literary fiction #litchat
LitChat: Great #litchat today–stimulating and much to think about. Only used 3 of my 5 questions. Will continue on Wed 4 pm/edt.
deberryandgrant: @BenRubinstein Unless it’s a “classic” trend like “coming of age” #litchat
kj_smith: Just making it in. Too late for #litchat?
LitChat: #litchat is officially over, but feel free to keep the chat open as long as you wish.
LitChat: Am on the road and tweeting on phone. Will post thanks to all the LitPeeps later. #litchat
jdistraction: First time I’ve done a tweet chat! Very cool. #litchat
corb21: @BrooksSigler do you participate in #litchat often? it’s a lot to keep up with!
BookingIt: @thebookmaven I can see balancing act: 2 big sellers + 1 award winner -> ability to take
BrooksSigler: @corb21 I do participate in #litchat from time to time; it is fun, but you definitely have to be paying attention!
BookingIt: @corb21 As long as publishing is business, I don’t see any way around an emphasis on sales by publishers. Disappointing, but real. #litchat
WayneHurlbert: @BrooksSigler @corb21 I think it’s just enough to see people reading anything. Perhaps they will move to more literary titles later #litchat
BookingIt: #litchat huge chunks of conversation missing through API/twitter apps. Twitter search has many more tweets.

Comments»

No comments yet — be the first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: