Fiction Short Stories

I read an article not long ago that claimed, “no one reads literary fiction,” and “literary fiction is boring,” and “stuffy old people who are completely out of touch with the world give Pulitzers.” Thinking much about these statements convinced me that people don’t understand what literary fiction gifts.

Having read many genre fiction books and stories, I learned little from them. Children’s literary fiction novels are more memorable than most epic fantasy novels people praise. A spider living in the rafters of a pigsty befriends the pig below, seeing the pig’s fear when he learns of his pending slaughter. She draws attention to the pig by writing messages on her web, and by the miracle of a spider-silk billboard, people saw “Some Pig” and realized the message separating youth and maturity, caring and uncaring, meaningfulness and apathy, and life and death. Everyone knows this story ingrained in literature’s memory the same way they remember high school graduation or their first job. If you don’t know the story, life cheated you of something important, and sadly, you don’t understand what you missed.

If I were a spider building a web on the ceiling of literature’s barn, I would spin the words “Some Illiterates” above the writers claiming literary fiction boring or valueless. Though this sounds harsh, if you read literary fiction, you quickly understand this statement’s veracity as improved comprehension and critical thought transform your mind and writing. Having read many books across fifty years, I am convinced people who read only genre fiction never truly actualize their writing, critical thinking, or humanity.

While many boring or simply bad literary fiction novels pollute literature, genre fiction’s lack of substance, poor mechanics, and formulaic writing forms a towering garbage heap when compared. Much like genre fiction, having many authors and themes, literary fiction provides a reading wellspring. If you don’t like what you are reading, try a different book. (Trust me; I follow this advice, and I don’t exclude my writing from it.) I will never read Charles Dickens again. I recognize the literary value, but after two years of high school force-feeding Dickens, I just can’t read the man, but there are millions of choices in literary fiction.

Choosing to read just genre fiction prevents seeing the message that makes you some writer, some thinker, and some person.