Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reading literature

I’ve started a creative writing course and it has made me realise that I don’t really read that much “literature” anymore. That is capital L, serious, Booker/Miles Franklin [insert appropriate award] winning books.

Surprisingly, the course is very much about the ‘classics’ with set readings from authors such as: Hemmingway, DeLillo, Ondaatje, Proulx, Naipaul, Carey and Winton.

I am struggling with the readings. And it’s not just the short fiction, but also the critical analysis pieces which have so far relied upon a close textual reading ie. this is an important point in the narrative because it represents this and in relationship to that etc.

Oh god, reading some of these set pieces just reminds me why I didn’t continue with literary studies at university!

The main text is The Best Australian Stories 2010, edited by Cate Kennedy. And to be quite frank I didn’t find anything that great about them! I actually enjoyed about 2 stories in the whole collection.

The frustrating thing is that I am supposed to use some of these stories as a springboard for my own writing. Oh and the fact that I have to produce a peice of fiction that is:

  • literary in style: not specialist generic fiction such as science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery – but you may draw upon aspects of those genres providing your work remains literary in style and sophisticated in approach and content.

I'm a little miffed that it seems that "literature" does not seem to encompass sci fi, mystery or other genres. It's an old fashioned and very conservative view of literature which suprises me because the institution I am at isn't a traditional conservative "sandstone" sort of place.

After all this whining, you may be suprised that I have decided to contiue with the course. The actual creative writing has been fun and it is quite liberating that you get to make it all up! Especially when my day job is all about writing 'key messages' for other people.

That and the fact that I will be writing a genre influenced creative piece for my assesment. Just trying to work out whether to go with zombies or vampires......

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