I'm guessing most of the people who read this blog would classify themselves as writers of "serious" fiction and they may, by default, also be "serious readers." And 'serious' can mean several things - enlightening, poignant, thought-provoking, and (at its most watered down state) educational. Chekhov is serious fiction. So is Welty and Bellow and Hemingway - we all know the list.
And yet, I know more than a few "serious" writers who often indulge in literary fiction's step-siblings. That would be:
Young Adult (or a percentage of)
and what have you.
I will out myself right now and admit that I have read a book...or two...of Indian chick-lit. These books are frivolous, unrealistic, hackneyed, and they come with pretty covers featuring clothing and shoes that no "serious" writer could ever afford. Their benefit comes from the fact that absolutely zero brain cells are required to read them. Oh - and, though it hurts to admit it, they're entertaining. As readers, I think many of us can claim to have dual personalities - we may dip in and out of genres as we please.
But what about as writers?
Which brings me to the point of this whole entry - an article in today's Washington Post that profiles John Banville, an Irish author who won the Booker Prize in 2005 for The Sea. An earlier book, The Book of Evidence, was shortlisted for the Booker in 1989. Banville is, by all accounts, a writer of serious fiction.
He's got an alter-ego, a pen name, another writing personality who is named Benjamin Black and who writes thrillers. And while John Banville can take years to finish one of his novels, Benjamin Black finishes writing in months.
Is this so different from the fiction writer who pens travel or food articles on the side? Or the newspaper columnists who transform their experiences into psuedo-fiction? Which form of writing is catharsis for the other? And if a writer of literary fiction also writes genre fiction, does that automatically make his/her genre novel more worthy than a novel from a writer who ONLY pens genre fiction?
And what about the differences in plot?
Read the article. And let me know what you think.