I was all excited yesterday when I learned of a local literary review. 'Oh boy,' I thought, 'I can submit a story to that! Won't that be neat?' I clicked to their submission page and read through their requirements - font sizes and document formats and all that. That's what I do at my day job, so I figured I could handle it.
Then I got to the greatest requirement of all: "We are not looking for 'genre' novels, i.e. mystery, science fiction, historical." Oh, so it's like that.
You see, if you write a story in which there are events, dramatic tension, etc... then it falls into a 'genre.' The stories these 'literary' types prefer have no 'genre' in their minds - but real people (story loving humans, that is) see them for what they are. Literary types define their novels with terms such as 'a coming of age story,' or 'a tale of loss and redemption.'
Don't they see what they are doing? They think that writing a 'crime' novel or a 'fantasy' is a 'cliche.' With 'literary' books, the entire STORY becomes the cliche, not just what 'type' of story it is. The entire -idea- of the book becomes the cliche of 'modern disaffection with over-insulation and societal alienation.' The 'literary' types do not realize that real stories deal with these themes in a much more intelligent and moving way than their scrapings.
I will leave you with some thoughts I offered a friend when they read a prize-winning book but found it to 'suck royally.'
"Heavily regarded prizes for literature are usually the same as a 'Pretentious Douchebag Seal of Approval.'
'Literary,' when used to describe the 'genre' of a novel (for these types consider a 'genre novel' i.e. a real book with a plot or story, to be the worst offense against mankind) is a synonym for 'A story in which nothing happens to boring people,' and are read by people who think 'plot,' 'characterization,' and 'dramatic tension' are the equivalent of 'throwing a puppy into a meat grinder and dancing about as its entrails fill the air like confetti.'"