So, I really love certain genres and I’ve long wanted to kind of do a historical look at some of those genres as well as focus on certain authors in those genres. So, as is my wont, I ended up doing a lot of research, using reference books, online resources, etc. in order to create a list of essential books & movies in a few of my favorite genres. Namely: horror; espionage; British mystery; American mystery; & the incredibly broad “thriller.”
Anyway, these are the genres that kind of land right in my sweet spot (there’s one other that I’m kind of considering throwing in as well, but we’ll have to wait and see about that). Where’s sci-fi? Fantasy? Romance? Western? Not in my sweet spot; start your own thread. A lot of sophisticates tend to look down on “genre” fare and it’s true that genre fiction comes pre-loaded with a lot of tropes and clichés, but so too does literary fiction. And I don’t even require genre fiction to subvert those tropes and clichés; often just doing them in a particularly good way is more than enough to elevate a book from being just standard genre fare to being legitimately great literature in my opinion.
I have a list of both books & movies in all of those categories, as well as a few authors in each category that I’ve already kind of explored and want to essentially look at their entire bibliographies. For example, in horror, I’ve set aside Stephen King, Clive Barker and a couple of others that I want to really explore as well as going through my broader list of the best. Some of these lists go way back in time and I wanted a kind of more measureable way to tackle these things so I settled on a hundred years (though I’m actually starting in 1914, given that I actually started working on all these lists in 2014, not this year). The plan is to pick a genre (I’ve arbitrarily chosen horror as my starting point) and look at a handful of works and then jump to another genre (I’ve tentatively set aside espionage as the likely candidate) and kind of “catch up” to that first genre. I also do want to work in the stuff that came before the 1914 deadline, so I have a way that I’ll be doing that too, but probably all this is glazing your eyes over. It’ll come clear once I get started, which I will with my next post.
So, horror. 1914. I have a scant three books to look at for 1914, but they look to be all winners. Next time, we’ll be looking at a novel that was originally published in serial form in a magazine in 1913 and was then collected into book format in 1914. The setting is Prague, the late 1800s, a Jewish ghetto . . . and a figure from myth or perhaps a figure from madness has arisen. Join me next time for The Golem by Gustav Meyrink.