Genre Pressure

Since we’re all friends here, I feel comfortable admitting the following to you all…

I’m just not crazy about Battlestar Galactica. There, I said it.

Oh, and you know what author I just cannot, for the life of me, get into? Gary Shteyngart.

I know. Those two things have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Not on the surface anyway.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I recognize Gary and Battlestar for their objective superiority in their given genres and even would go so far as to say I like them. I’m afraid that’s just not enough for me though. You see, I’m supposed to love them.

This is what I call Genre Pressure. As a fan of well-written science fiction, and as a fan of literary fiction, I should be ALL ABOUT these things. I even love all Brooklyn Jonathans. In fact, I continually pick up stories about self-obsessed writerly types in NYC even though it’s so incredibly lazy and cliche… I eat ’em up though! So why don’t I love Gary?

Genre Pressure works in mysterious ways. It’s the literary equivalent of “he’s just not that into you.” Only, it’s much harder to admit to yourself. No one wants to betray their favorite genre, especially when everyone you completely respect tell you all the time that “OMG You would totally love this!” So usually, I lie.

But nope, not today. I’m coming clean. Well, at least about these two specific examples.

What about you? Who else among us have secretly betrayed their genre of choice for the sake of fitting in?

24 thoughts on “Genre Pressure

  1. I'm a fairly huge Star Wars fan (Empire if I'm really being honest) and I didn't like the first two prequel movies. I tried. Multiple times. They were just too damn dorky for me.

    This coming from a woman who owned Empire action figures as an 8th grader.


  2. I must admit I'm not an Isaac Asimov fan. As someone who writes sci-fi, you'd think he should be one of my heroes, but no. I've tried reading a few of his works to force myself into liking him, but it didn't work.

    That felt wonderful! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to let our secrets out!


  3. Much to the chagrin of my sister and husband, I'm agreeing on the Gaiman thing. Started out so enthusiastically, loved the wit, the voice … and then after putting up with little annoyances (read: okay, thought the character should've done something there but whatever…), I remember the exact moment I put Anansi Boys down and knew I wouldn't pick it back up. I don't care about a character who doesn't care enough to act.


  4. Ahhh, here's a book series I don't usually admit in writers' groups to intensely hating: the TWILIGHT series, especially when writers who comment how much they hate that series are accused of being jealous. Ummm, no, I would be embarrassed to write a series like TWILIGHT, that's how un-jealous I am. There, I said it, in a writers' group. I feel so free!


  5. Sarah, I love this post. Perfect timing, too, as I'm reading two books right now I think I should love and don't.

    I write YA. And I could barely get through the first HUNGER GAMES. (I liked the arena part, but it was only half of the book.) CATCHING FIRE? Way too easy to put down, especially as someone gave me a spoiler for MOCKINGJAY, so I have no desire to finish reading!

    I don't lie about what I like or don't like, either. I've never been alienated for it. I just brush it off with a joke about different tastes and whatnot and nobody disrespects me for it.


  6. Fight Club. Love, love, love the movie, but I could never get into the book.

    I also never got into all of the Chuck Palahniuk books that were gifte to me after I raved about Fight Club the movie. I read the first few chapters of each, and then they ended up collecting dust on my book shelf.


  7. Honestly: I do not like Jane Austen *GASP!*
    I know, I know. As an English Major isn't one supposed to like her? But nope.

    I also agree with Jaimie. I too have had a hard time getting into Gaiman's stories.


  8. @Anonymous – It's OK. You're in a safe place. Personally, I think Shakespeare should be watched, not read. I enjoyed reading a couple of his plays, but even then… call me when it hits theaters (or, theatre).


  9. Sorry, Sarah, I guess I commented incorrectly. I divulged what I secretly like, but shouldn't, instead of what I secretly don't like, but should.

    Lord of Rings by Tolkien – sorry. Loved the movies, found the books too difficult to follow, although I read all three. (Maybe I was too young when I read them.)

    Lesson for today – don't comment before 2nd coffee!


  10. My son, Matthew, recently picked up a leather-bound collection of Reader's Digest Condensed Books for me, left behind in a house he was renovating. I'm embarrassed to say that I love them!

    I just finished one story called, “The Night Lives On,” by Walter Lord. It's a sequel to “A Night to Remember,” about the Titanic. It explores some of the mysteries that still remain, and follows the survivors after the disaster. I couldn't put it down! My son's girlfriend, Trisha, saw me reading it and said, “I know how that ends, you know.”

    Also, there's a show in Canada called, “Animal Miracles” about dogs and cats who help humans avert disaster, a la Lassie. It's so cheesey, but I love it, and usually end up crying at the end – don't tell anyone!


  11. I consider it one of my biggest flaws that I never lie about my literary tastes or politics, even though alienation may ensue. Sigh. And I do love Battlestar Galactica – it’s just so brilliantly written with such amazing philosophical concepts. I’m a sucker for science fiction based on big philosophical ideas.


  12. Erm… I meant to say, “The action scenes were fun, but some parts of the STORY were so rape-y…”

    The way it reads now, it's like I'm saying the action scenes were occasionally rape-y. Umm, no.


  13. Dollhouse. I should have loved it… It's got Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku and mind-control. What's not to like?

    But I just couldn't get behind it. The action scenes were fun, but some parts were just so damn rape-y that it freaked me out.


  14. Brent Weeks. I love epic fantasy and I even liked his characters, but the whole first book of his “Way of Shadows” series felt like backstory to me. I just couldn't keep slogging through….

    Agree on Steinbeck. Why on earth do teachers give that stuff to angst-ridden high school kids?


  15. LOL, Sarah! Dwight Schrute would be furious about the Battlestar Galactica thing. Or, are you not into The Office either? The shame!

    Good thing we have free choice in individual impressions. We could be walking around in George Orwell's, 1984.


  16. I love epic fantasy, but for the life of me simply cannot summon any enthusiasm for Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. I love R.J.'s Conan stuff, but his WoT is just, well, it's boring. And every time I voice that opinion, the Fantasy Geek mob grab their pitchforks and torches and march towards my house.
    Stephen Erikson's Gardens of the Moon is another one I just don't get.


  17. Wicked. The musical, not the book. It's just okay.

    Neil Gaiman. I should love him, but his protagonists are so passive (usually) that I'm “eh.” Characters are huge for me; I don't go ga-ga for concept alone, and I think that's the main appeal of Gaiman. (Having said that, I have read 80% of his stuff.)



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