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June 09, 2012


Mary Daniels Brown, Ph. D.

I recommend two of Minette Walters's early novels, "The Ice House" and "The Scold's Bridle." See my notes here: http://www.notesinthemargin.org/fiction-notes/walters-minette/index.html


Ariel, My heart goes pitty-pat at the mention of the word "academic." I tend to like things written either by or about academics/academic settings. I'll check out both of these, thanks.

Re: AC Doyle, I loved Hound of the Baskervilles. Think that's all I've read by him but I understand his real life was pretty exciting.

And that's two commenters uncomfortable with the term "literary fiction." You aren't the first two I''ve known to question it, either. It's the difference between the transporting, sheer magic of Salman Rushdie vs. the drudge excreted from Danielle Steel every couple of months. And stuff written by hot Irish and British men who turn my knees to water. That's the definition in my dictionary, at least. The one I wrote myself.



Literary fiction is read only when one is drinking tea, pinky held aloft.
It's the best of the best. La creme de la creme. What rises to the top, winning awards and making my knees buckle. I think that last is the most reliable definition.

Until I read an article in the Atlantic, which I'm still working on, bashing today's literature compared to that of the good old days, I was happy enough considering literary fiction as fine, lyrical writing. But this guy's messed me up real good. Annoying as all hell, actually.

For now, let's say literary fiction is written by hot Irish and British men. I knows 'em when I sees 'em

P.S: Carol Shields was a magical writer.


Should I be startled/depressed/ashamed of how few authors I recognised at the Pima County Library list? I doubt, given how many books you read (I'm a very slow reader), that I could come up with any authors I've read that you haven't but just in case:
Under "Contemporary Women" I've read everything I can lay my hands on by Carol Shields and Sue Miller.
Under "Fantasy", I've always enjoyed the late Anne McCaffery. (Guy Gavriel Kay is also good, but I'm a bit squeamish.)
Under "Historical Fiction, I'm always impressed by Sarah Dunant.

(What the hell is "Literary Fiction"? Everything that doesn't fit under other kinds of fiction, or is it just classier fiction that's more likely to appear in university courses?)

Ariel/ Sycorax Pine

Two fantasy and one mystery recommendation for those who like books that straddle the line between literary and genre fiction (ughsome terms though those are): GRACELING by Kristen Cashore (YA feminist fantasy by an author whose careful academic study of children's literature shines on every gorgeous page), THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss (another academically rich fantasy, highly aware of its predecessors and beautifully written, but this time a sprawling epic fantasy in which there's little plot, but you find yourself utterly engrossed in a complex world of fully-fledged characters), and THE BEEKEEPER'S APPRENTICE by Laurie R. King (I'd been avoiding this mystery series about a brilliant young female detective/theologian who is taken under Sherlock Holmes's retired wing, under the mistaken impression that it was very commercial women's fiction. Instead it was (although hugely bestselling) a richly allusive, marvelously meandering, philosophically complex take on the mystery tradition, and better written than the Conan Doyle originals, which I also love.

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  • Writer and book reviewer, editor, columnist, blogger, author interviewer and book event roadie. I read. I write. I take pictures. And I am a librarian.

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      The Graveyard Book
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