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What counts as literature? 

Montana author Richard Wheeler has some intriguing observations here on the state of fiction. Building on a recent Jonathan Yardley Sunday Washington Post column, Wheeler suggests that most "literary" fiction is these days at best self-absorbed. I've heard others make similar arguments: contemporary fiction and memoir are often formulaic.

Wheeler and Yardley suggest that "popular" and "genre" fiction is where today's action really is. No surprise from Wheeler, who has long been known as one of the most literarily accomplished writers of novels set in the Old West (in other words, books commonly derided as "Westerns"). But Yardley is part of the Eastern establishment that has often scorned writing from elsewhere as mere "regionalism."

I don't know if they're correct, if the future of literature is 'genre.' (Maybe it's 'film', or 'narrative nonfiction', or even 'greeting cards'.) But I'm delighted that Wheeler has chimed in on the argument. His later posts have built on it, giving his blog a wonderful thematic integrity.

I'm always interested in feedback, via info at johnclaytonbooks dott comm

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