For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work before purchasing it on the Kindle store; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.
On literature and other matters: I have, in the past, attempted what I consider to be literary works although even those sometimes have a touch of the fantastical about them. I consider these works to be Go Back To Start, Shiloh, So Fades The Day and a few others. Of course, thing being me, I also have several literary attempts which I have started but not yet gotten around to completing – Tessera and my translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. But Gawain is a matter for a different post, I think.
As well as what is generally called genre fiction I have read a lot of what is called literary fiction, as though there is a clear distinction between the two. Of living, ‘literary’ authors, my two favourites are, without doubt, Haruki Murakami and David Mitchell. I have read all of David Mitchell’s novels, my favourite being that tale of childhood Black Swan Green.
I have read a lot of what are considered to be the ‘classics’ – War and Peace, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Wuthering Heights and so on. Some of them I found to be more enjoyable than others.
War and Peace was simply loooong; although I must admit that it did have some very good battle scenes in it, portraying the confusion of the fog of war. But there were whole sections of the novel which seemed to have little bearing on the ending, and could easily have been excised – Pierre getting involved with the Masons being the one which comes to mind.
But I digress. I am not about to review every novel which I have read. I don’t like literary criticism, as most of it seems to be failed writers joyfully putting the boot into people more successful than them. I was going to talk about literature and what it means to me.
I don’t like the division between genre fiction and literature. Why can’t a horror novel be great literature? Why can’t literature embrace fantastical elements? Even now, after all of his successes, some people look down their noses at the likes of Stephen King, as he has committed the crime of writing horror fiction in the past.
I think that, if he had lived in the nineteenth century, that Stephen King would have been embraced as one of the great writers of his day. There was much less of this artificial division between literary and genre fiction back then. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is seen as a great writer, but The Lost World and The Poison Belt and the other Professor Challenger stories are what are now called genre fiction novels.
H G Wells, now probably remembered for things like The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds, was also a literary novelist, producing works like Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul, and The History of Mr. Polly. But Wells turned away from science fiction as a result of criticism of books like The Food of the Gods. The rot was setting in, with science fiction no longer being seen as respectable.
(Incidentally, while on the subject matter of Wells and Conan Doyle, a local book store has the works of Conan Doyle filed under D. no, morons, it’s C for Conan Doyle – he adopted the Conan as part of his surname. sorry, I just had to get that off my chest, as I am very pedantic, and those sorts of things annoy me a great deal.)
To return to one of my themes – if Stephen King had lived in the 19th century he would have been hailed as a great author. in fact, I think that he would have been seen as a better author, in the modern day, by those who denigrate him as being only a horror writer if he had published his non-horror stories (or ones which only have a small fantastical element) first. The Green Mile, The Body, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, are all great stories. If he had written those first, before doing something like The Shining, people would probably bemoan the fact that Stephen King was wasting his talent writing horror novels.
I would like to see an end to the ghetto-ising of fantasy and genre novels, of this artificial division between literature and the rest. All that matters is whether a book is well written or not. I have read quite a few supposed literary works which, frankly, were execrable (but because I dislike literary criticism I am not going to name any names).
There have been great genre novels. Frankenstein is one which springs to mind; Dracula is another one. They are both great literature and great fantasy. I would like to write something as memorable as either f those two. I would like the strands of literature and fantasy fiction to meld back into one, once more.
In other news, I am still putting more of the chronicles of the hapless wizard Edwyn Le Fay on the site. I have added a couple of new chapters, listed below, to hopefully avoid any confusion.
The stories should be read in this order:
The Dark House
The House On The Cliff
Mr Naith and Mr Naith
Searching For Gideon De Ville
The Evil Plans of Gideon De Ville
Edwyn Le Fay At The Trismegistus Club
An Enforced Vacation
Edwyn Le Fay In Oxford
Back To London
The House Of Edward Lang
The Captive Edwyn Le Fay
The Other Lair Of Gideon De Ville
The Human Infernal Device
De Ville’s Master Plan
More chapters will follow, until the story of Edwyn Le Fay is complete.