Professors, students, writers, critics, and readers of literature will all have you believe that it is the true heavyweight when it comes to fiction, but I'm here to tell you they’re all wrong. Literature is lightweight. Decidedly so.
I discovered this earlier today during the latter phase of what I call Operation Destroy My 2011 Word Count, which my (significantly) Better-Half refers to simply as decorating. I have to say I don’t recommend anyone attempts to decorate their entire house in one go. I mean ours is by no means a massive manse, just a small Victorian Terrace, but there was a lot of work to do, floors to repair, woodchip to strip, walls to make good, old carpets to rip out, etc. before actual decorating can commence. Destroy My Word Count 20011 is no joke. This sort of stuff is no good for your writing . . .
. . . where was I? Oh yeah, insulting Literary Fiction. Right.
So today, I started the first stage of decorating our office. That basically means boxing everything up, and getting everything out of the room so I can strip the walls, and rip up the carpets. The office has three bookcases and emptying them is where I started. The first bookcase was full of coffee table hardbacks, history tomes, and biography. Let me tell you those things have some heft to them. History Professors earn their crust when they publish. Never mind reading about the Hundred Years War, you could have fought in it armed and armoured with these weighty tomes. History is heavy, man.
The second bookcase was full of RPG rule books, doorstop fantasy, and brick sized historical fiction. Humping these big boys down the stairs, armload by armload was no easy job. Not quite as heavy as the History non-fic, and the coffee table hardbacks, but heavy enough. By the way, if we put all our ‘so called’ coffee table books on the coffee table it would destroy it quicker than decorating has destroyed my 2011 word count; which has been a destruction of the long drawn out kind . . .
. . . I’m guessing you can see where I’m going with this . . .
. . . so finally I move on to the last bookcase, the one filled with all our Literary Fiction. By now I’ve got a bit of a sweat on from bouncing up and down the stairs, and my arms are feeling the burn from the armloads of heavy books I was lugging while doing it, so I sigh and reach for an armload of Literary Fiction and it flies off the shelf, feels light as air in my tired arms. Now I’m not saying great writers are lazy, but there’s a hell of a lot of slim tomes amongst our literature. Slight, light, and easy to lug. I soon had those down the stairs and stacked on the floor with the rest of our books. Literature it’s lightweight . . .
. . . yeah, yeah I know hardly a paradigm shattering epiphany, but what do you expect for free.
It’s a strange thing to see all, well most - we have a couple more bookcases in other rooms- of your books laid out on the floor in stacks, rather than on the bookshelves where your used to seeing them. Seeing them every day, like good friends, family, and loved ones. Strange.
I love, love, love my Kindle and wouldn’t be without it. I’ve read a ton more since I got the kindle and love the convenience, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go totally digital and lose the bookshelves, and the books that fill, and often overflow, them. Then again it was damn easy to take the 600 plus books on my Kindle downstairs so maybe . . .
. . . and because I’m feeling vaguely mischievous and more than a little whimsical . . . when I finished stacking the literary fiction I put Isherwood on top of Hemingway. An arrangement I’m sure neither of them would be entirely happy with.