Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Genre Talk

10 Greatest Works of Christian Fiction
10.  Wrinkle in time by Madeleine L'Engle
 9.  Piers Plowman  William Langland
 8.  Canterbury Tales  Geoffrey Chaucer
 7.  Psychomachia  Aurelius Predentius Clemens
 6.  Lion the witch and the wardrobe  C.S. Lewis
 5.  Christmas Carol  Charles Dickens
 4.  Pilgrim's Progress  John bunyan
 3.  Faerie Queene  Edmund Spenser
 2.  Paradise Lost  John Milton
 1.  Divina Commedia  Dante Alighieri

Young Adult and Children's books continue to be popular:
No need to be embarrassed about reading kids’ books…they’re great according to the NY Times

Are Vikings the new vampires?
Despite rampant speculation that Zombies are the new Vampires, this author maintains that Vikings are the new Vampires.  Odd, since the Vikings themselves are not paranormal creatures, but there you are.

Collection Development: Not Ready For Boot Hill
Western literature is not dead yet!  Feeling much better now, thank you!

From Library Journal:  The genre emphasizes  physical setting—the American West (usually anywhere west of the Mississippi River) and in particular the frontier territories of the 19th century. The popular conception of the genre is that of a thriller–cum–romance novel featuring gunslingers with plenty of bullets flying, published chiefly in paperback, and emphasizing reprints from the great pulp writers like Max Brand and Louis L'Amour.

However, the Western Writers of America (WWA), founded in 1953 to promote the genre, also recognizes nonfiction, poetry, journalism, screenwriting, and modern Westerns as subdivisions of Western writing. Its highest awards are reserved for works that qualify as literature by any standard.
Why should libraries continue to collect what some consider to be a dying genre? Although the popularity of traditional Westerns, primarily stories of strong people (usually men) in a savage land, is declining as their longstanding reader base dwindles, there is still life in the old genre. Many contemporary writers use the trappings of the Western as historical fiction to tackle social issues like the injustices done to the American Indian or the nature of vigilantism. Other authors write cross-genre novels that mix the Western with romance, mystery, sf, or Christian fiction to appeal to a broader range of readers


D.M. McGowan said...

I've seen a sharp rise in interest for the so called Western story in the past few years.
I started my grand son on some of the old "B" movie westerns a few years ago and now he has some of his freinds (late teens) hooked on them as well.
True, most of those who buy my stories are the "traditional" readers of westerns but I have a great many younger readers as well. Perhaps 30%

I think the biggest reason for the apparent decline in westerns is the lack of available new material. Many of the great ones ... L'Amour, Kelton ... they're not with us anymore.

Booktender said...

I think you definitely have a point! My father was a heavy consumer of all kinds of westerns.

In my library system, in AZ, we have some branches where they go out heavily and some very little at all. Curiously, a librarian near the Navajo reservation told me that she can not keep them on the shelves!

I believe you are spot-on about the young-adult interest. I am seeing a slow building of interest from male teens in the area.

Although everyone is allowed to check out materials from anyplace in the building, we also have a special teen center. Now that you mention it, I'll be curious to check with that team to see if they carry westerns in any way.

Another problem we have is promotion. Westerns are near the back of the fiction section. Not good promotion. I haven't even noticed where they are in bookstores.

Then we have the problem in libraries of how they are cataloged. Some perfectly western westerns are cataloged as fiction. Always a dilemma in libraries.

I wonder if publishers pushed westerns more toward the young adult market if we would see a rise in interest and publication? Perhaps we can drive out vampires!

Thank you for your comments. You have given me some good ideas!