Once again, thanks to Larry for the "heads up!"
The Language of Defeat is a very nice piece written by author Jeff VanderMeer. Here's an excerpt:
This language of defeat has to do with accepting a paradigm of the fiction world as "us" versus "them", of "mainstream" versus "genre." I use quote marks around "genre" and "mainstream" because I do not believe these terms are as monolithic or as meaningful in practice as we think of them in theory. The "mainstream" and "genre," if we must subdivide in this way, are both various, rich, and fecund traditions, with many strands and diverse lineages. (In many cases, the two intertwine in such an incestuous way that separating them from each other is a job for a trained genealogist.)
In most cases using this kind of language leads to a bemoaning of the lack of acceptance by the "literary mainstream." It also leads to a certain resentment on the part of "genre" writers, especially centered on the idea that some "mainstream" writers get away with writing "genre" books. We've seen this attitude a lot lately—focused on writers like Margaret Atwood for her Oryx & Crake, Jeanette Winterson for The Stone Gods, Cormac McCarthy to lesser extent for The Road, and even the work of Jonathan Lethem in a general way, once accused of abandoning his "genre" roots. The negative attitudes toward these books and authors have three layers or premises: (1) that it is somehow inherently wrong and rude for these writers to write in what is so clearly a "genre" milieu (without asking first?), (2) that these authors' cliché comments disavowing their books as "Science Fiction" or "Fantasy" somehow reflect negatively on the quality of the actual texts, and (3) that these forays into forbidden territory are written with no regard for or knowledge of "genre" predecessors.
Click on this link for the full story. . .