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Writers on reading: Stephen King

A reader after my own heart?

I do not like postmodernism, post apocalyptic settings, postmodern narrators, or magical realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn’t be — basically, gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful —nonfiction only please. I do not like genre mash-ups à la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children’s books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter by shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items  and — I imagine this goes without saying — vampires.

AJFitkryThere is so much that A J Fitkry doesn’t like reading, that it’s hardly surprising his bookstore is failing. Fikry is the cranky owner of Island Books, the only bookstore on Alice Island somewhere in New England, and the central character in Gabrielle Zevin’s novel The Storied Life of A J Fikry.

I’m only on page 40 of the book but I’ve already warmed to this character even if I don’t agree 100% with his list of dislikes.  ‘ll beg to differ with him when he insists that books stay firmly within their genre boundaries. Isn’t it when genres get mixed that we see real creativity? Wouldn’t Great Expectations or Frankenstein be lesser novels if their authors hadn’t broke through the (artificial) boundaries between realism and the Gothic?

But I too have an abhorrence for anything vampirish or post apocalyptic. Nor do I care much for anything written by minor list celebrities like X Factor runners-up. As for magical realism, maybe I just haven’t read the right things but so far I haven’t exactly found it particularly enchanting.

What are your likes – and dislikes? Are you a vampire lover or a magical realism fan?


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