Tag Archives: suspense

#MondayBlogs: My Issues With Literature

18 May

Intro:

From 2009 to 2013, I studied English at the University of Kansas, and during that time, I had to decide whether or not my focus would be on literature or on creative writing. I fought with my adviser over this for my first semester. He wanted me to pursue literature; I wanted to hone my writing skills. After I showed him a copy of November Snow, he relented, and I was an English major with a focus on creative writing. Now, that being said, the majority of my classes were still focused on studying different types of literature (instead of writing), and we often talked about the differences between literature and “other writings”, so today’s topic—discussed and written by Eliot Gilbert—hits home for me, and I hope you enjoy his post as much as I do.

My Issues With Literature

There is an elusive mythical status in the world of writing which can only be obtained, seemingly, by bribing (or blackmailing) scholars and booksellers. The status to which I refer is what I like to call capital “L” Literature, and I’m so against the term that I almost sighed by typing it out.

I am sure at least some of you have scratched your head trying to puzzle out the term “Literature”, without much avail. I, personally, am studying English Literature academically, and I still am not entirely sure what means. Its seems peculiar to me to have a distinction between literature and Literature.

Here’s where I think the largest mix-up is: the western literary canon seems to insist that a work should be valued as Literature if it has a superb artistic merit, and if it has significantly contributed to cultural development of the western world. At first that definition seems to be satisfactory, but when put under any amount of scrutiny, it simply does not hold up.

Modifications made under the creative commons license. Photo by Brittany Stevens.

Modifications made under the creative commons license. Photo by Brittany Stevens.

Firstly, the definition seems to imply objectivity. In truth, the decisions are entirely subjective; works of writing are determined Literature by scholars and researchers who have their own interests and methods of interpretation. Put differently, some works are ignored because a scholar has no interest in them, and some works are elevated because they speak personally to the critic.

So, it is impossible to responsibly define Literature as an objective status. This brings up the second largest problem, in my mind: it’s a ridiculous “dog chasing its tail” situation.

Literature is determined based on personal interest of the scholar, and then either accepted into the critical community or rejected, over a span of time, and through further interest by other scholars and researchers. What happens, then, is that certain work gets attention, and then that work is elevated to Literature, and other work is ignored or put down because it doesn’t fit the present definition of Literature. Those who are fellow writers may see a similar situation in getting published without previously being published.

This, in my mind, has caused a host of confusions and issues. The main issue for me is a general dismissal of genre fiction. I like to use The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty as my go-to example. The novel, especially the 40th anniversary edition, is brilliantly paced, highly imaginative, has artistic and disciplined prose, and makes the reader think and discuss rather than spells everything out for her. In addition to this, the novel has had millions of copies sold, and spawned several adaptations, not least of which was the first film adaptation, which became one of the highest grossing films of all time. By anyone’s definition, The Exorcist should be literature, but a quick search on Google Scholar will demonstrate that is simply not the case.

The western canon of literature is extremely genre-biased. Works of science fiction, horror, fantasy, suspense, and YA fiction, are frequently ignored only because there is a preconceived notion about the quality of writing which is altogether unhealthy and false. In my own experience, there is frequently unskilled work that is considered “general fiction”, or even what is considered “contemporary literary fiction”.

As readers and writers, I think we need to broaden our scope of what is considered exceptional writing.

In his book Literary Theory: An Introduction, critic Terry Eagleton asserts that Literature should not be viewed in the standard way I described, but instead, as work that is highly valuable. I believe it is infinitely more useful to view Literature in this way, because it encourages subjectivity.

That is not to say I believe the casual reader is as skilled at literary analysis as a PhD would be, but I do believe that we should stop capitalizing the “L” in Literature; “literature” is, simply put, anything that is written, and every written work deserves an equal scrutiny, regardless of genre or format.

So go out there and create wonderful literature, and read wonderful literature. But please, for the sake of us all, try to avoid the more snobbish, capitalized consonant variety.

author+pictureBio: Eliot Gilbert is an emerging fiction writer, primarily working the in soft fantastic. He is a proprietor of aesthetic approaches to literature, and thinks genre work isn’t given enough attention as a serious medium. His work is appearing in the fall issue of Calliope, the literary magazine of the special interest writing group of the American Mensa. He studies English at York University, in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on his website, on his Twitter, or on his Instagram.

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

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Want to Win Prizes, including a Kindle Paperwhite?

21 Nov

During my last post, ShannonAThompson.com hit 11,000 followers! Thank you to everyone who follows and supports me–as well as many other readers, writers, and dreamers.

Dont’ forget you can still enter this giveaway to win a signed paperback of Minutes Before Sunset.

As many of you know, I am a young-adult author. I keep you updated on this adventure on a regular basis. But I’m also a Social Media Marketing Manager (or Wizard!) for AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. And I don’t really update everyone on this equally as interesting adventure–so today, I wanted to share two virtual parties I’ve been working on that you can attend and win prizes like a Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon gift cards, Starbucks gift cards, signed paperbacks, blog spotlights, and more! Check them out: (you attend them online, so no worries about traveling. You can stay in your pajamas in bed if you like!)

November 21: 

Marsh Island Launch Party7-9 PM (CDT)309985_113790502160320_351626349_n

Celebrate the anticipated mystery/thriller, Marsh Island, meet the author, and win prizes including 3 signed copies of Marsh Island (Book 1 of the Hirebomber Crime Series) from author, Oliver F. Chase, 5 Starbucks gifcards for $10, an ebook of your choosing from AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc., an ebook of your choosing from Amy DeJesus, horror, fantasy, new adult, and romance novels, and a spot on “Welcome to the Inner Workings of my Mind.

Simply click “join” and participate to win these prizes.

P.S. I’ve already read Marsh Island, and it’s fantastic! (But what else can you expect from a suspenseful thriller written by a former SWAT and FBI member?)

eBOOK eXTRAVAGANZA

December 12:

Ebook Extravaganza: 6-9 PM (CDT)

Kindle Paperwhite Giveaway. Free and discounted books and eBooks. Tons of other prizes. PLUS: Get to know AEC authors, participate in games, and celebrate our first year of publishing with us!

This event will be really exciting because you can LIVE interview any AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. author–all while winning prizes (including that Kindle Paperwhite.)

So join us over on Facebook for the Ebook Extravaganza and the Marsh Island Launch Party

I look forward to participating in these events, especially to see who wins those prizes. In the future, I’ll be updating everyone on upcoming parties, so look out of that, too!

Thank you again for supporting me!

~SAT

Movie Mention: Looper

4 Oct

Afternoon, readers!

I saw Looper last night, so I thought I’d give my opinion on this science-fiction thriller.

In the future, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of bodies, so the mob uses loopers–trained assassins that kill and dispose of whomever the mob sends backwards in time. Shockingly Joe, being one of these men, gets his loop closed (when his future self is sent backwards to be killed). But he isn’t the only one. Everyone’s loop is getting closed, and Joe is going to find out why.

As much as I like writing about science-fiction, action, and suspense, I am not a huge fan of watching it on the big screen. (So take my word lightly if you REALLY love movies that are like that–because it’s not really my thing).

I thought it was an AMAZING concept with a lot of potential, but, overall, the movie disappointed me. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis did a great job; however, it was more the second half of the movie that just didn’t click for me. I’m not HUGE on giving spoilers either, so don’t expect me to ruin future movies for you. That being said, I REALLY enjoyed the first half. I thought there were some in-depth perspectives and unique concepts. I suppose my biggest problem I had was that the movie didn’t seem to remain within its own reality the further it continued.

Again, if you love action films (like The Dark Knight Rises for instance) then you’ll love this movie. If you love action films with more conceptualized realities (like Inception) you might be disappointed.

Watch the trailer (or read more about it) here.

~SAT

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