In a recent profile of Justin Cronin in the New York Times Magazine, Colson Whitehead is quoted as saying he’d “rather shoot [him]self in the face” than have another discussion about literature genres. I don’t blame him. When people ask me what kind of fiction I write, I usually say, “It’s about people,” and leave it at that. But as I read Ringwald’s book, I found myself pondering literary fiction: as a genre, as a taxonomical category. When It Happens to You, you see, is a sterling example of literary fiction, if we were to consider literary fiction as a straightforward genre like romance or science fiction, with certain expected tropes and motifs.
What, you ask, are some attributes of this genre? Read on, my friend, read on.
Great little article. Thanks for heads up. I was just reading Evan Marshall’s breakdown of genres in The Marshall Plan For Novel Writing. Literary genres are definitely different from film genres. Literary fiction definitely breaks down into different subgenres as well. It’s helpful to explore this stuff, I find. Helps me clarify what I’m thinking about in better ways.