Friday, July 27, 2007
I don't have a problem with many uses of the word genre, just certain ones. I have the most trouble when these labels are used to prevent discussion, to prevent a work from being taken seriously as literature. When we say "genre," we generally mean "something crappy," something that would be sold in an airport. I hate to see great works of literature ghettoized, whereas others that conform to the rules, conventions, and procedures of the genre we call literary fiction get accorded greater esteem and privilege. I also have a problem with how books are marketed, with certain cover designs and typefaces. They're often stamped with an identity that has nothing to do with their effect on the reader. I subscribe to Sturgeon's Law, which is that "90 percent of everything is crud." I'm trying to say that they're all inherently equal—it's not what you do, it's the way you do it. The percentage of excellence isn't any higher in what's called literary fiction. -- Michael Chabon, interviewed by Elizabeth Benefiel at AV Club.