The Literary Genre Part 3

More thoughts on the literary genre, mainly who reads this genre and why.

The answer, as I believe I’ve seen from talking to people who love it, is (drum roll, please) readers who want to insert their own ideas into the story, figure out their own endings, and interpret whatever happens in their own way.

The reason I say this is because I hear over and over again from readers of literary fiction how much they hate it when the writer hits them over the head with the meaning… the story line… the ending… the character descriptions… whatever it is they wished had been handled more subtly.  Or, to look at it another way, they want to read the story the way they’d have written it if they’d been the author.

I suspect that for many readers, literary stories work in much the same way as those stories with multiple endings.  The kind where you read so far then decide what ending you want and it pops up just the way you wanted it.  Ten people could have ten different endings.  I suspect that lovers of literary fiction want to be able to see the whole story their way, not just the ending and they couldn’t do so if the writer was too specific.

This is no more than a personal belief of mine based on observations of reader friends over the years but I’ve come to truly believe that they read literary fiction because it allows them to fill in so many blanks in a story that is all allusions and generalities that when they are finished they have read whatever story they were looking for.

Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but I do wish them good reading.

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