Genre Bending

Just because Top Of The Pops is dead doesn’t mean the Top 10 is no longer a cultural force to be reckoned with. Everyone loves a list, and the Guardian is no exception. Their Books site often posts up ‘Top 10s’, list of books on a specific theme, written by an author with a related book to plug. The newest is ‘Genre-defying novels‘ sounds a bit too theoretical on first glance, but there’s a great, tub-thumping intro that nails why they’re worth reading:

“Genre is all very well, but it’s a cage as much as a support. Who knows how many books a person who won’t touch women’s fiction or only reads sci fi is missing out on that they’d otherwise love? But for a writer, the effect is more insidious. A work of art needs to be complete on its own terms: it needs to ring with internal rightness, never mind whether it makes sense in terms of genre. A writer who forces a trope in or leaves an idea out because they’re worried about genre categories has mutilated their book.”

I’ve always been interested in the odd little barriers of ‘properness’ that people insist on sticking up around their areas; how things are ruled in or out because someone rules that they don’t fit. The idea of ‘what belongs’ can all too often become a nasty notion that closes down interesting possibilities and original approaches, so it’s always something I’ve wanted to challenge, both in my writing for work and the fictional stuff that I’ve written, so the list definitely appeals to me. I’ve read a couple of the suggested titles, and will certainly be using it to bulk up already pretty-obese Amazon wishlist. To it, I’d add:

* Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’, a great blend of cloning sci-fi and study of memory and youth and…
* Taichi Yamada’s ‘Strangers’, a ghost story and tale of urban life.

The Guardian’s list was written by Kit Whitfield, whose literary fiction/werewolf novel has just come out. Looks really cool, one for the wish list I think. Whitfield also has a neat blog here. Worth reading to find out why it’s not called Bareback in the US (LOL) and for the post ‘There’s Always Someone Sensible‘, which does some interesting digging in an old tome for timely advice…

[Updated for clarity, grammar]

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