Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A Little on the Trashy Side

The Kentucky Headhunters once sang, "I like my women just a little on the trashy side."

While the Dynamo is a class act, my tastes in other stuff, well....

I grew up with sci fi, fantasy, noir detective yarns and comics. Space warps and talking swords, hard-boiled dicks who shot first and asked questions later and men in their underwear throwing cars at each other were my meat. Still are.

Except I had the blessing and the curse of a fairly posh education. I studied classics. I learned a hell of a lot about how to think well. But there was always a big disconnect between my professors and me.

I'd show them Jack Kirby's art. They'd see the Hulk trying to feed Galactus his teeth and miss a vibrant muscularity of line that goes right back to Michaelangelo.

I'd mention Raymond Chandler, and they'd miss the lean, stripped-down prose and an existential angst every bit as bleak as that of Hemingway or Fitzgerald, except that unlike those two, Chandler's fiction never quite gave up hope.

These days, heaps of literary writers work within the genres. It's the best of both worlds, and most everyone knows it. James Lee Burke, Thomas Harris, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, ah, the list goes on and on. And it's forced everyone to step up their game.

A writer who 30 years ago might have been content with lazy writing and a regular check now has to pay attention to language and character development and all that good stuff. And those ivory tower elitists have even started to (shudder) have plots.

These days it's okay to be a little on the trashy side. As long as it's 'quality trash'. And we're all the better for it.


cs harris said...

My favorite literature has always been a little too literary to be popular and a little too popular to be literary. But do you really think popular fiction is becoming more literary? I'd have said the trend was going the other way. But then, I've always been a glass-half-empty kind of person!

Charles Gramlich said...

I've been a fan of quality trash since the beginning. That's generally what I want to write, some good exciting trash with some quality to it.