Wednesday, July 18, 2007

For anyone who may have committed 'genre'

I thought our esteemed resident novelist might get a kick out of this, and also I already have a copy of "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" and it's next on my reading list. From Jon Carroll:

OK, this is really too wonderful to pass up. My friend Mary pointed it out to me, and to her goes all the glory. Background: Ursula K. Le Guin is of course a venerable, much-honored and utterly fabulous writer of science fiction. She's won a bunch of awards. She wrote the "Earthsea" series and a novel called "The Left Hand of Darkness," and a few dozen other books.

Quote from a Franklin review in Slate of "The Yiddish Policeman's Union:" "Michael Chabon has spent considerable energy trying to drag the decaying corpse of genre fiction out of the shallow grave where writers of serious literature abandoned it."

Le Guin, from her Web site: "Something woke her in the night. Was it steps she heard, coming up the stairs -- somebody in wet training shoes, climbing the stairs very slowly ... but who? And why wet shoes? It hadn't rained.

"There, again, the heavy, soggy sound. But it hadn't rained for weeks, it was only sultry, the air close, with a cloying hint of mildew or rot, sweet rot, like very old finiocchiona, or perhaps liverwurst gone green.

"There, again -- the slow, squelching, sucking steps, and the foul smell was stronger. Something was climbing her stairs, coming closer to her door. As she heard the click of heel bones that had broken through rotting flesh, she knew what it was. But it was dead, dead! God damn that Chabon, dragging it out of the grave where she and the other serious writers had buried it to save serious literature from its polluting touch, the horror of its blank, pustular face, the lifeless, meaningless glare of its decaying eyes!

"What did the fool think he was doing? Had he paid no attention at all to the endless rituals of the serious writers and their serious critics -- the formal expulsion ceremonies, the repeated anathemata, the stakes driven over and over through the heart, the vitriolic sneers, the endless, solemn dances on the grave? Did he not want to preserve the virginity of Yaddo? Had he not even understood the importance of the distinction between sci fi and counterfactual fiction?

There's lots more. Mr. Carroll closes with:

Them's writing, friends.

I agree.

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