Gina Frangello

Fantastic exchange between Lidia Yuknavitch and Gina Frangello over at the Chiasmus Press blog:

[FRANGELLO:] I think what is really at issue—at stake in the literary world—is the dumbing-down of literary fiction, and this push, which has become even more rabid post-9/11 in the United States, to make fiction palatable and “inspiring? and positive. That terrifies me. That literature, especially by women, is increasingly facile and feel-good, and hesitates or even refuses to tackle the darker side of humanity and our world. Not to say there aren’t dozens or hundreds of writers out there who are writing challenging, gritty, real literature, but they are having a harder and harder time breaking into print. You can get away with it if you’re already famous—I mean, if you’re Roth or Doctorow or Coetzee or Atwood or Morrison, you know, these are real writers, brilliant writers, who have experimented with form and who have tackled some of the most terrifying issues out there—then you can still find an audience, a big one, with the support of the corporate publishing engine. But if you’re some new chick, everyone wants you to write The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing, or at least if you have to be a little bit depressing, The Lovely Bones. They want something that will be the pick of all the book clubs with the suburban women of a certain age who want to read something they think is kind of smart and edgy, but that in the end offers them all the palatable resolutions—that, you know, heaven is like summer camp and good girls will marry their grade school boyfriends and bad men are impaled with icicles and mothers who leave will return, and that it will all be okay in the end. To be clear, I don’t dispute the right of some novels to read that way, or think that makes them not good on an individual basis. But when there’s this large-scale homogeneity and white-washing of literary fiction, that scares me.

Two part assignment: 1) Read the rest of the interview here. 2) Buy My Sister’s Continent, Frangello’s new novel, here.

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