Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Making of Genres and the Quest

      When the thought of doing interviews on The Novel Road popped into my head, it wasn't an epiphany-ish pop. It was more like, the site's audience is growing like a weed, so maybe I should do other things to keep it interesting. (Note to self: never run out of "private moment" reading material again. The fan noise causes ideas to "pop")

     My idea was to start having the interviews with authors from each and every genre. I mean, how many could there be? After only a few moments of research, I found a list by the California Department of Education. They wrote the list with a vague certainty in the opening line:

       "Here is a list of literary genres as defined by the California Department of Education:"

    The list includes 18 Fiction and 5 Non-Fiction genres, as well as their descriptions. See? Not that many, so my Einstein-esk mind quickly calculates that's... 25, 23 genres, and if I do one interview a day during the average month... (insert theme to Jeopardy) I will have 7 days to interview agents, editors, publishers and maybe even the octogenarian meter-reader that gets chased down the alley by dogs once a month. I mean, that guy can move! Though he hasn't quite figured out that screaming, swearing and throwing things doesn't dissuade a lively determined animal.

    Being thorough, I check a little more (Wikipedia) and less than a second after I bring up the "Literary genres" page, I'm spewing Diet Coke with Splenda at my monitor. Coughing and spattering, my eyes clear again to re-read: 189 literary genres. A nervous laugh begins, as I read the headings, some of which I am hoping are a "Wiki-Jokes".

 Penny Dreadful - 19th Century weekly sensational series

 Homophonic Translation - Translating a text from one language into another without trying to preserve        the original meaning. (Why? It sounds like an excuse to get it wrong. Like a literary shoulder shrug...)

 Lovecraftian Horror - Named after H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) he was into "Human Nullifying Entities" and grimoire later transitioning into Psychological horror.

 Ergodic Literature - I gave up at the descriptions of extranoematic and hypertext fiction

 55 Fiction - I'm not even kidding... Science fiction that is no more than 55 words in length (origins of the...Gulp!...Query letter?)

Robinsonade - If you write about being on a desert island, this is you... Seriously, I dare you to put this down as your genre when you submit. Somewhere in the rejection letter will be, "What the %&*$ !)

Scandinavian Noir - OK, this is actually a seriously honorable genre (Stieg Larrson's Millineum Trilogy ). But it gave me mind's eye visuals of a girl named Elsa chasing Heike down a very clean street, imploring him to give up his life of crime in the Brunost Mob...

  Seriously, where do these genres come from and above all... Why? I'm sure genres are created by the marketplace. Is it so bookstores know what to call the isle or section you need?

  It could be that genres are actually clubs, with secret hand shakes and cool club jackets. Would a Paranormal jacket be see through? The Steam punk jacket would be black, made of despair proof Gore Tex.

  Label we will, there for label we must, whether to simplify or identify. But 189 genres? It will be impossible to find authors from all these genres. Some are from long ago and have become the foundation of new genres... Oh my God there may be more of them!

  What I do find interesting about my research into genres is that most of the modern genres have roots in others from times past. Have a look and tell me what you think. While your at it, if you should know of any authors in the more obscure genres listed on the Wiki pages listed earlier, let me know...

*I'm now on a quest!