I'm back to my blogger page after a hiatus of almost two years. This time I'd like to concentrate on literary fiction, which I mentioned briefly in my previous post dated November 24, 2013. In fact, I'd like to turn my blog into a literary fiction book club.
When I think of literary fiction, I envision language that does not rely on convention, but on the process of discovery. Generally, literary work offers the reader a deeper look into the human experience through elements such as style, character development, metaphors, phrasing, and the use of sensory detail. In its broadest sense, literary fiction attempts to communicate concepts or feelings that transcend the basic structural elements of story. A primary difference between mainstream and literary fiction is that mainstream tends to have a stronger emphasis on plot rather than on character. That doesn't mean literary fiction lacks plot or narrative movement. Beautiful writing needs glue to hold it together.
Take Moby Dick, for example. More than an entertaining story about ships at sea, it explores layers upon layers of symbolic, psychological and metaphysical themes. Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and her other works run deep into the theater-of-the-mind. Often there is a moral dilemma played out through all the senses.
A literary story can be quite simple, but it will impact the reader with a feeling, maybe joy, maybe surprise, maybe anguish or loss. Still, something has to happen plot-wise to make these feelings palpable.
Hardly predictable, literary stories unfold the human drama in a probing, authentic voice. The focus is in the characters' psychology, and revelations on the human experience.
Besides the hundred stories listed on my new, updated website, it might be fun to discuss All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and discuss whether we consider this literary fiction, mainstream or a combination of both. I have just started it.