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Divisadero - Michael Ondaatje i'm waiting for my laundry to get done, so I guess I'll blab... a tenth of my reviews are blabbing reviews? the itch to write is just something stuck in your fingers? (wah) I won't complain. I spent today searching for rumors of a demonstration and found only a hot pepper festival. I was wearing a straw hat; almost cowboy style; not quite a bowler.

if one is permitted to sort of draw out bad prose or whatever in even a GR review (auto-archived so as not to clutter people's inboxes), I suppose the primary question of judging this work's merit comes down to:

-->when will literary fiction be as good as genre fiction?<--<br/>
this isn't a facetious question. I am of the opinion that a child genius or teenage literature fanatic believes, "hey, literature is more elevated/ higher / worthy than thrillers / sci-fi / erotica / romance novels / detective novels / horror / western / crime / fantasy." the adult understands, two news items filled CNN today:

1 - Miley Cyrus twerked at the VMA
2 - airstrikes on Syria are about to begin.

the innocent child believes #2 to be significant. the fully-grown adult knows #1 is the real news.

the fully grown adult knows that Miley Cyrus's twerking is the true story. a young girl wants the world to know that she has become an adult. it is an everygirl's story: the first moment, age 13, when you realize that you are not a child who prefers sweets and pink and fuzzy animals, but a fully functioning mini human being who can read other people's minds better than they realize and is capable of even bearing a child! what man, no matter how powerful, rich, handsome, famous, knowledgable, can bear a child? none. none! the gift of generating a human life belongs to the female gender alone, and it is the female who is the generative sex. a world composed entirely of women would eventually unlock the secret of parthenogenesis and the human race would survive. but a world entirely composed of men would disappear in a single century's time. no science will ever alter a man's body into a creche of life.

anyway, this isn't PURE rambling. what i'm getting at is that literature itself is a deeply troubled field. from the very first novel, the tale of genji, 13th century, to 'Divisadero' by Michael Ondaatje, a line can be drawn about psychological shifts, human personalities against time, national events vs. individual stories. this is, presumably, part of that estimable field we refer to as "lyrical poetry," whose muse is Euterpe. but in the meantime, we are faced with the problem that genre works are ultimately more important than literary fiction. for example, 20th century:

THRILLER: Ludlum and Crichton
SCI FI: Bradley, Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein
EROTICA: Desclose, Duras
ROMANCE: du Maurier
HORROR: King (although the 19th century was obviously the high point)
WESTERN: Amour, and more recently, McCarthy
CRIME: Lehane
FANTASY: Weis/Hickman, Tolkien, Brooks

now compare those names above with the kings of the lit novel:

Mitchell, Egan, Murakami, McEwan, Waugh, Nabokov

see! of course Waugh and Nabokov are strong enough by themselves to almost carry the field, in total, all the sci fi and fantasy writers combined just about punch out the two rock stars, and then if you add cyberpunk (Stephenson, Gibson, PKD), we have enough genre writers to even outweigh James Joyce! so, that is the war between the genre writers and the literature writers and the genre writers. vive le thriller; vive le roman d'aeroport.

for these reasons, this 'gorgeous' as another reviewer so delightfully put it, literature novel gets a very solid, very impressive 4/5. yes, there is lyricism. but it is not a thrilling genre novel.