Illuminations of Desire

LesbianI was watching an independent film titled Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same when I stopped to consider whether Barnes and Noble has a marked-out section for Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Fiction. Then I asked myself the question: should B&N strive for genre exactitude and expand the signage in their stores or should they continue with a reasonably limited collection of genres that will avoid the clutter and confusion of too many categories but at the same time will allow for many worthy titles to be lost in the morass of titles that are mistakenly related: Fish For Sashimi filed in the Aquarium section; The Great God Brown lost in Speculative Religion; Stephen King mistakenly placed in with the good books; Rikki Ducornet sorted under Hot Authors.

We seem to get into a discussion of genres at  least once a year. I personally subscribe to the theory that genres were created so that booksellers would know where to exhibit their wares. For most readers, if they enjoy reading, say, Science Fiction, then if someone tells them a book is science fiction, they will read it. Besides, where do we slot Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same: under Psychology, under Sexual Preferences, under Science Fiction, or even under Stationery Stores.

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The Best Bad Book You’ve Ever Read

MarxIn the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Bookends Section, the question asked is “What’s the Best ‘Bad’ Book You’ve Ever Read.” This area of the Book Review always asks the question to two individuals in the world of literature or journalism and often the answers constitute a rousing “he-said, she-said” of literary taste and opinion. Not always, however, and the response to the question this last weekend was varied but not especially combative.

For the record, James Parker dipped back into his love of popular genre fiction, selecting Earl Thompson’s 1974 novel Tattoo (I actually read this one) but quickly spreading out his opinion to cover what might be called a genre of bad fiction, from Science Fiction to Rockstar Autobiography. Parker did not convince me that I should read any of the works he reminisces about.

But Leslie Jamison focused on a specific book and then asked a very pointed question (but flunked the answer):

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