What is Literary Fiction?
This 'serious fiction' pillar was a wide high one - much larger than the 'true literary fiction' pillar which has a feebler structure (my description). But what is in this literary fiction group and what defines it? I've been trying to answer that question today and have found some good quotes mainly from this website.
"... (consists of ) books that really draw you in with language, imagery, character insight and sense of place." Judi Clark
"...(is) complex, literate, multilayered novels that wrestle with universal dilemas." Joyce Saricks.
"...(is) critically acclaimed, often award-winning, fiction...more often character-centered rather than plot-oriented."
or is it, as Robert McCrum has heard from various people, 'highbrow', 'pretentious' 'unreadable' 'dull' with 'trendy stylistic gimmicks'?
However, I think those first few quotes could apply equally well to what Patricia Duncker referred to as 'serious fiction' too. So these quotes don't really answer my question - what is literary fiction?
Maybe in true literary fiction there is not a story and the focus is entirely style. If this is the case then I am beginning to think that I don't like true literary fiction very much at all. Nothing happens. The characters spend the entire book smugly making clever jokes to themselves for the reader to admire from a distance. There is usually much evidence of literary knowledge, and this is paraded at every opportunity, so that readers with a similar education can smirk knowingly and feel included in some special smug club. I sometimes come across books like this, and after a few pages I throw them down - and once, after being particularly annoyed, threw one particular book right across the room. It landed cover side down and was completely undamaged. Now that, it occurs to me, is probably something you can't do with a Kindle.