Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Storytelling in literary fiction: let’s discuss

Here’s a Sunday Re-Blog from one of my favorite writers :-)

Nail Your Novel

New_dress_DSC09958There’s a tendency among many writers of literary fiction to opt for emotional coolness and ironic detachment, as though fearing that any hint of excitement in their storytelling would undermine the serious intent of the work.

That’s Husband Dave last week, reviewing Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel The Buried Giant on his blog and discussing why it failed to grab him .

An anonymous commenter took him to task, asserting: To have a “sudden fight scene” would be cheesy and make the book more like YA or genre fiction (i.e. cheaply gratifying).

Oh dear. Furrowed brows chez Morris. Setting aside the disrespect that shows of our skilful YA or genre writers, how did we come to this?

When did enthralling the reader become ‘cheap’? Tell that to Hemingway, DH Lawrence, Jane Austen, William Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Charles Dickens, Steinbeck and the Brontes, who wrote perceptively and deeply of…

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12 responses to “Storytelling in literary fiction: let’s discuss

  1. philipparees June 28, 2015 at 4:44 am

    I somehow missed this post back in April, but having read Dave Morris’s review of Ishiguro’s book and setting aside ( for the moment) the artificiality of the lit/genre debate it struck me that the automatic assumption that the esteemed ‘giants’ can do no wrong, or if they seem to they have profound and good reasons we must take on trust does run deep. It is as though any criticism of such authors implies a lack in the critic, or a carping of the envious. This does inhibit genuine debate.

    I confess that as a reviewer I would be loathe to decimate a self published book of an unknown author but once wrote a review of one of these literary giants (Ian McEwan) simply as an exercise in examining what made them so heralded. As a publishing failure I wanted to learn.That review languishes and is now irrelevant to an almost forgotten book but I think it does examine the flaws that ‘esteem’ overlooks. If anyone wants to see it, it can be found here


  2. Roz Morris @Roz_Morris June 28, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks for digging out this post, Alexander. I’ve enjoyed the extra discussions.

    Liked by 1 person

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