My last entry quoted research about the importance and value of reading literary fiction. But literary fiction is a rather vague term. Moreover, for some in the world of education and publishing, it even has a negative connotation. (“Kids won’t read it!”) For others, it is a positive term. (“My students adore your writing.”) But what exactly is “literary fiction?”
National Book Award winner, Alice McDermott, author of the current bestselling novel Someone, said this in a recent PBS interview: “We are surrounded by story. Story is very accessible to us, more so than ever. But what I think literary fiction [does] is raise the level of the sentence to be as important as the story the sentence tells. The rhythm, the beauty, the music of it is as important as character and plot.” Which is to say, if the writer aspires to literary fiction, the way one writes is as important as what we write.