Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Is That a Real Genre? (03/22/16)

Alicia groans inwardly as she receives the "get to know you" paper from her teacher. It's the first day of school, and she has a ton of homework that doesn't really mean anything. She doesn't mind doing the work if it helps her learn, but the syllabuses (syllabi?) and quizzes just to test the equipment and programs are all monotonous for her.
She fills in the easy stuff: name, grade, parents' names and contact info... But then she gets to the more personal stuff and stops.  Which animal represents her? What is her favorite genre of books? What is her favorite book, and why? She sighs and puts the paper in her folder. It's ten in the morning, and she's not used to thinking this early in the day.

Fun fact: I write most of my fiction in present tense. I feel like it makes the story seem more unpredictable, since the narrator is speaking in real time and something can happen to them at any time. I also like switching between narrators, although it makes some people crazy when authors do that. Bwahahahaha.

I don't know about the animal question, but I'm pretty sure that Alicia and I have different favorite books and genres. I know, she's a fictional character and she can like whatever books she wants, but my taste in books is not much like that of a typical teenager.

I used to be the typical science-fiction-but-only-popular-dystopias type of reader, but eventually all the plots started sounding the same and I'd already read most of the good popular books. I don't want to commit to realistic fiction because there's so many books out there that are beyond my maturity level in what I would enjoy, and there's no way to tell when you pick up a book how far it will go apart from the section of the library in which you find it. True science fiction gets a little strange, as does fantasy, although I do admit there are really good books for all both as well as realistic fiction. Mysteries and historical fiction have to be done correctly to be good, so I have to pick and choose my favorite authors for those. Classics are overrun with Shakespeare and other extremely sad books that you are forced to read in high school, which also happens to be the point in your life in which you are the most emotionally unstable and at risk for reaching the same fate as the poor book characters. Nonfiction is okay... as long as you're interested in whatever you're reading about.

So what do I like? My current favorite authors are: C.S. Lewis, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Agatha Christie. All of them wrote different genres, and all of them are 20th century authors who have regrettably passed away.

  • The first (Lewis) is a religious author who writes fiction that makes readers think more deeply about their spiritual lives. He's most famous for the Chronicles of Narnia series, but I also really like his The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce. It's all fiction that ties in some of the supernatural to prove his points, but he does make known, especially in The Great Divorce, that he is only trying to make the point, not guess at what the supernatural world is really like.
  • The second (Montgomery) is famous for Anne of Green Gables as well as the rest of the series, which I have read as well. It's probably the most realistic realistic fiction series I've ever read, and once you adjust to a slower pace than, say, Divergent, it's really funny and enjoyable. 
  • The third (Christie) is well known for her mysteries like the Hercule Poirot (don't ask me how to pronounce that- it's Belgian) series and And Then There Were None. I have read a good portion of the Poirot series and I did read And Then There Were None, and I think her style is wonderful because she gives you all the clues you need to figure out all the crimes, but there are so many plot twists and dead ends that it makes you feel really good if you actually guess the correct person in the end. (My favorite in the series so far is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Genius!) She also has two other series and many stand-alone books, one of which (The Mousetrap) has apparently also been remade into a play.
Q. So what do I call a genre that encompasses these three authors? (Plus any others like them that I find) 
A. Semi-historical fiction. Fiction that could happen (well, maybe not all of C.S. Lewis, but I digress) and takes place in the past, but only because it was written long enough ago that time, not the author's intent, has outdated their works. Their audience when it was written could relate directly to the characters in the time period because it was either present day or in their lifetime, but those who read it now know what happened from history class alone. (Now that I think about it, all of these take place before, during, and/or after WWI before WWII was predicted to occur.)

I don't think that's a real genre, but it's good enough for me.

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