There’s an age old conflict in the writing world. High art vs. low art. Popular culture vs. Cultural elites. Bestseller status vs. Critical acclaim. What’s the difference? Why does it matter, if it does matter?
At the heart of one side of that argument is the simple idea of story. When I teach, I ask my students, what is a story? It’s more complicated to answer than it might seem. Popular writers put story at the centre of everything. Story is compelling. Vastly, terrifyingly compelling. Watch people watching a popular soap opera. Whatever story is, it’s addictive. That’s why bestsellers sell. They aren’t just words on a page. They’re an addictive substance and we the reader are jonesing for our next hit.
The high arts of the “literary writer” a toying with something a little different. I don’t really want to give it a name, but because critics use the…
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