Monday, April 25, 2005

Thoughts on Fiction

Early this morning I finished reading A Widow for One Year by John Irving. I was moved and awed again by his remarkable talent (see previous posts). Anyway, it led me to start thinking about fiction and particularly Christian fiction (actually the thoughts started yesterday in our bookstore, where Katie and I had a discussion regarding a new novel by Frank Peretti.) Here's my "the rules" of Christian publishing work against the development of good Christian literature? When I say "the rules," here what I mean. In my limited experience with Christian fiction, there seem to be certain rules, such as the book must deal with "Christian idea," or that the hero or heroine must be or become a Christian in the course of the novel and that even if they are shaken at some point, there will be a resolution in which everything will be righted. However, when I read the kind of literature that gets me excited, the characters are almost never as simplistic as they are in Christian novels -- they're twisted and screwed up and complicated and often, in the end, while the plot resolves, the character may not be better off, in fact, sometimes they're worse off for their adventure. So here's what I'm asking -- do ya think it would be possible to have a publishing house that publishes great literature, just because it is quality, and don't ya think that God is in some way honored when a writer creates something of beauty, regardless of whether or not everyone gets "saved" in the end? WARNING: Here Comes the Cynicism -- I guess though, that really the Christian publishing industry is like every industry in that the bottom line is making profits, and in the end, it's more profitable to publish formulaic, sappy novels for 30-something year old females than to publish literature that would be stimulating and controversial.


Adam said...

yeah but this is the case with everything Christian.

look at CCM. isn't the simple act of making music glorifying to God? but instead we make low level propganda and call it a music ministry.

Anonymous said...

I still agree with you, but I thought of something else. A lot of the people who read Christian fiction (or any fiction, really) aren't looking to be challenged, they're looking for escape. Escape from life only works if the place you're escaping to is "nicer" than real life. So, one motivation for the publishers might be to put out stuff that you can lose yourself in, without compromising your morals. Plus, as a publisher, you'll reach a wider audience by putting out something "too conservative" (because "liberal Christians" won't object to it and neither will "conservatives"), but if you swing too far "liberal", many of your "conservative" readers could get offended. Of course, I'm not talking politics when I use liberal and conservative. Anyway, just some of my further thoughts on the subject.
P.S. Thanks for the mention - am I famous now? :)