Ruth Franklin’s review of Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” starts off with a statement calculated to raise the ire of speculative fiction readers:
Michael Chabon has spent considerable energy trying to drag the decaying corpse of genre fiction out of the shallow grave where writers of serious literature abandoned it.
Ursula K. LeGuin wrote a delightful response that begins:
Something woke her in the night. Was it steps she heard, coming up the stairs — somebody in wet training shoes, climbing the stairs very slowly… but who?
The illustration accompanying this entry is cropped from the original drawn by bellatrys inspired by the LeGuin piece. There’s already a chapbook (pdf link).
Overall, Franklin’s review is not as dismissive as the opening sentence implies, but instead reflects what I think of as a profound ignorance of thoughtful, entertaining work being done in genre fiction. Her ignorance is captured best in the inverse of a complement she pays to Chabon’s book, calling it “a ‘what if?’ story for adults.” For adults — as if anything published in genre fiction is written for children. Why do you think the literary establishment is so ignorant of genre? [mefi]
2 thoughts on ““The Decaying Corpse of Genre Ficiton””
Hearing all this talk of the new Chabon release makes me a little sad…
A year ago, I would have been thrilled and no doubt attended his book signing. He’s been my favorite author since I first read his debut novel THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH back in the early 90s.
But I can no longer support the work of an author who has no regard for the story and characters that put him on the literary map.
In case you haven’t heard, there’s a film version of MOP coming out later this year… Written and directed by the guy who brought us DODGEBALL, in which he’s CHANGED 85% of Chabon’s original story.
And the sad part is… Michael Chabon himself APPROVED of the script! WHY would he do this? I can only think of one possible answer: $$
If you are a Chabon fan, esp MOP, I suggest you do NOT see this movie. You will be sadly disappointed at the COMPLETE removal of the gay character, Arthur Lecomte, and the fabrication of a romantic love triangle between Art Bechstein, Jane Bellwether, and a bi-sexual Cleveland Arning. And really, what is MOP without the presence of Phlox Lombardi? Alas, she’s barely in it.
For a copy of the script email: bechstein[at]yahoo[dot]com
Point taken, franQ, but that’s Chabon’s right as a creator, at the end of the day. Principles are all well and good, but why shouldn’t he take the money? Martin McGrath has a very succinct reply to your original protest.
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