Dime Store Fiction versus Literature


While we were having our own little drama here concerning whether mundane matters such as word choice and comprehensibility should inhibit the truly gifted writers among us, the "real world" has been having it own debate -- can genre fiction be considered "literature"? I offer no answer and expect none. I merely suggest the following interesting articles for your reading pleasure. They are not in any particular order, so you will have to do your own sorting.









asked Nov 09 '12 at 06:32 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

I believe the drama queen has taken her ball and gone home, but, God, it was exhilarating for awhile, wasn't it.

Lewis NeidhardtNov 09 '12 at 11:03

Oooooh! What did I miss?

TolleyNov 09 '12 at 22:37

Folks. I am beginning to suspect that "Sam" -- a new member -- is our friend returned under a new name.

Jeff PribylNov 10 '12 at 01:52

And then Sam went away too.

Jeff PribylNov 10 '12 at 02:02

Likewise, and the questions from him just disappeared, as did the downvotes someone gave me today. I don't know if Sam and J's disappearances were self-imposed or if some Grammarly PTB banned him, but this past week has made me appreciate the little bit I know about the regulars here and the respectful community we have always had. I wish Jody & a couple of the other girls would come back. Before you true experts showed up, it was mostly just us girls. (Not that I mind being in the company of intelligent and witty men!)

Patty TNov 10 '12 at 02:13

I suspect I know what happened and why. I am loath to say anything "in public" because the means/method could be misused and abused. I wish there was a back channel for non-public musing. Louis too received a lot of downvotes today. I was not very active today, so I seem to have escaped the wrath.

Jeff PribylNov 10 '12 at 03:09

We can use this question for a back channel. You should be getting an email notification of this comment. We've all got answers here, so it's one location we can use to get word to everybody.

Lewis NeidhardtNov 10 '12 at 10:07

Next, we'll get 'Son of Sam'.

Lewis NeidhardtNov 10 '12 at 10:09

Yeah, but our comments here are still visible to everyone else. If the Messiah should rise again -- or if the "method" fell into the wrong hands ....

Jeff PribylNov 10 '12 at 14:02

I don't get email notifications. I turned them off long ago. I get enough emails every day.

Patty TNov 10 '12 at 17:57

Check out Avital -- same fingerprint.

Jeff PribylNov 10 '12 at 23:31

Definitely. Just showed up as "Hero of the Day" for "voted on the most answers." That Hero of the day spot is ridiculous.

Patty TNov 10 '12 at 23:52

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4 answers


Interesting subject. I think that the decision of whether or not a work of fiction is or isn't literature should be formed by the reader. When I was a child, I read every Hardy Boys book written - multiple times. Great literature? Not really, but they did transport me into exciting situations and gave me thrills unobtainable in my young life. I recently gave my 3rd grade grandson a Hardy Boys book, so they are still around. Longevity is one earmark of popularity, if not literature.

There are great writers, and there are great storytellers. Occasionally, they converge and create something of lasting quality that stays on the store bookshelves and in the minds of the readers. Most of us have probably gone through phases of reading different genre; I know I have. I went through a period of reading cheap science fiction paperbacks for a couple of years, back when I was penniless and a friend would buy them used by the grocery sack full. I would read them before he would trade them in for new ones. What set these different writers apart was the ability to create a believable, but totally alien, universe. Some did, and some didn't. I don't remember any authors, but I can remember a few of their worlds. After years of needing to read technical works to make a living, with a only few small windows for recreational reading, I'm now reading a lot of fiction again, and enjoying every minute of it. A line I read the other day just blew me away. "The old man sat at the end of the bar, nursing a life long rage and a glass of rye." How can you not love it?

To me, what makes a book literary is if I remember it 40 years later as something enjoyable. After all, reading is something that should be enjoyed.

link answered Nov 09 '12 at 10:48 Lewis Neidhardt Grammarly Fellow

The downvotes have returned. Check out Avital.

Jeff PribylNov 10 '12 at 23:35

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I haven't read all five articles yet.  Here's a question, probably for Tolley, that I think is related.  When my youngest was in high school, one of the books his Language Arts class studied was a "graphic novel."  Huh? That was the first I had heard of those.  As a high school student, he offered minimal responses to my questions.  From what I could gather, one of the points they studied was that the genre required a very concise style or writing.  When I thought about it, I realize that it might be just as difficult to write in this style as in any other style.  The book was an inch thick!  That's a lot of story, even when it is in captions. 


I guess I didn't really ask a question, but I thought Tolley might have some insight on graphic novels since he is a teacher.  (??)  I think that to be a successful writer, (meaning one who earns money, acclaim, or both) one must fit into some style that a segment of readers find attractive.  There are some wildly successful writers who mostly describe heaving breasts and sweating abs.  Some people think it is crap, but is that because the plots are thin?  The point of those stories is never a great plot, but instead is meant to evoke emotions and create pictures in the imagination of every Sally soaking up the summer sun.  That actually seems difficult to me. 

link edited Nov 10 '12 at 02:25 Patty T Grammarly Fellow

We can use this question for a back channel. You should be getting an email notification of this comment. We've all got answers here, so it's one location we can use to get word to everybody.

Lewis NeidhardtNov 10 '12 at 10:03

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To some, the term 'Dime Store' has a negative connotation associated with its meaning. I don't read anything that isn't going to further my education or is related to my fields of expertise. Therefore, reading  'literature'/Tom Clancy or 'Dime Store' novels have very little value or appeal to me. There are some people who find poetry powerful and moving, whereas I find poetry boring, stuffy and unnecessary. There are individuals, however, who believe they are better or more superior because they are intimately familiar with the works of Shelly or Lord Byron. I spend most of my time interpreting meaning in various things, so having to interpret something as null as poetry I find quite annoying.


With that being said, there is a difference between sharing one's knowledge with others and showing off.  When I spot a show-off, in any forum, I tend to down vote that post. This is just my way of saying !@!# off! Show offs are troll makers and tend to invoke the wrath of Karma. Having lived the code of the warrior for most of my adult life, I believe that humility can be a grace-saver. Incidentally, I have only begun to comprehend, fully, the rules, forms and functions of grammar; therefore,  grammar 'masters' may find fault with my writing.

link comment answered Aug 10 '15 at 14:31 Gino Bernardo New member

This is a very weak essay. You want to be concrete, go easy on the reader and just say what you mean. Try not to be so complicated. Just look for repeated examples and drop the flabby op-ed tone.

link answered Nov 09 '12 at 17:53 Joseph Ronell New member

Please, share your take on the subject.

Lewis NeidhardtNov 09 '12 at 18:26

I haven't read all five of these articles yet. Which one is the very weak essay?

Patty TNov 10 '12 at 01:13

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