Sunday, 29 April 2012

Genre boundaries

I came across a new genre definition the other day - 'hysterical realism'. I was doing a bit of research into The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, and I was surprised to find this genre pop up when I had been expecting to see 'magical realism' mentioned. I had read the novel thinking about how it related to the magical realism genre, and I started to wonder, 'have I read it wrong? Should I read it again and re-evaluate?' (and then, of course, 'but I won't have time before we look at it at uni next week!')

We've been looking at genre more broadly in relation to horror films as well, and one of the questions that has arisen is whether or not genre is of any use as a tool for analysis. Boundaries are constantly being blurred; for example, horror films incorporate the gothic, thriller, murder mystery, some romance...I've even heard the word 'goreno' mentioned....

We have 'genre fiction', which isn't considered especially literary. But then works considered highly literary contain elements of genre fiction. I would argue that a great literary work like Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children is a work of magical realism, which I believe contains elements of fantasy. And the list could go on, along with the arguments.

I used to tell myself, 'I want to write a novel in X genre because it is better, and I won't touch X genre with a ten foot barge pole.' But classification is messy, and boundaries become blurred, and some of the best works aren't afraid to mix it up a bit.
We all interpret stories differently. Actually, we all interpret all sorts of things differently, so the idea of a one-size-fits-all classification system seems frankly laughable. Sure, it may help when used as guidance rather than rule, but I think if you have a story that you want to tell, just tell it without worrying about sticking to particular genre conventions. Sticking to convention means you're not offering anything new, and your story will have been heard a thousand times before. Conversely, if you end up with a story that has been heard a thousand times before, maybe then look at different genres to add a bit of spice and sparkle...

My attitude towards genre as a writer is different to when I'm considering it from the reader perspective, and I imagine that could be true more broadly. But I stand by the belief that anything can be used to your advantage if you approach it with the right attitude!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

An accidental pilgrimage

Somehow, whilst on my cycling journey, I made accidental pilgrimages to two places that captured the heart of my inner child; the Alice Liddell memorial in Lyndhurst, and various tributes to the Famous Five at Corfe Castle. 

For those who don't know, Alice Liddell was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice in her adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. And the Famous Five are...well, how to put them into words? They are Enid Blyton's most masterful creation in my opinion, and I feel sure that before Harry Potter came along, no series of books had captured the imagination of so many children quite like this. (That being said, I don't know how famous they are outside of England...)

I wrote before about how good the journey felt for my soul, and this is one of the main reasons why...

Pictures and more explanations below:

Friday, 13 April 2012

Journey or destination


I'm back from my cycling holiday and feeling so alive and inspired! It's amazing what fresh air and beautiful sights can do for the soul...I even found myself wishing for some Wordsworth or Byron, any Romantic poems, really, because I felt they would make more sense, or speak more truth when read in context in the natural world.

In fact, I would say it was more than a holiday, and that for me it was more like an adventure.

loveday journey adventure writing

And what an adventure it was....