If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


Monday, October 10, 2016

From Zombies to Girls

Last week on Facebook, professor, award winning author, and all around great guy and bon vivant Art Taylor jokingly said he was crowd sourcing recommendations of titles for a new class, Recent American Fiction. His Facebook feed filled with questions, comments, and suggestions. It was fun to see the hive mind of Facebook at work as dozens of people suggested titles for the class to read
It was especially fun and impressive to see the passion people have for their favorite books and their eagerness to discuss fiction in general. Not only do passionate readers love books, they’re eager to share finds and defend favorites. Plenty of people had great suggestions for books that were worthy of inclusion and study in a class devoted to recent American fiction.

For me, the most interesting word in the class title was “fiction” instead of “literature.” The term literature makes me feel that I’d have to suggest a title that was Important. Worthy. Maybe even Award Winning. If we’re talking about important recent American literature, we’d have to consider the undeniable powerhouse books like those by Jonathan Franzen and Junot Diaz.

As intriguing as I’ve found those acclaimed titles, I’ve found the trends in recent American fiction even more fascinating. Instead of just focusing on stellar titles, I think it’s fun and instructive to look at the changes seen in recent American fiction. In my slightly more than a decade on the information desk in a public library, I saw a lot of changes, developments, and surprises in American fiction.

Trend 1.  I swear I felt the ground shift beneath my feet after I finished a little book called Twilight. Thanks to a bunch of glittery vampires, Young Adult literature moved from Sweet Valley High into the mainstream. Adults started pulling books from the shelves that had been reserved for readers with more recently acquired driver’s licenses. This development was brought into full force with Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.

Trend 2. These Young Adult books also started a book to film pipeline that has started to slow only recently, glutted with dystopian tales of princesses who must save their planet through arcane magic and ninja combat skills.

Trend 3. Closely related was the zombie book trend. Though the zombie trend brought us some great books – Alden Bell’s The Reapers Are the Angels and Max Brooks’ World War Z come to mind - this trend seems to be staggering slowly into the sunset.

Trend 4. Erotica comes to Target. Fifty Shades of Grey and its imitators brought erotica into the mainstream.

Trend 5. The blockbuster kids’ book was another recent development in American fiction. Nothing could rival the success of the boy wizard – and Harry Potter was a British book – but series like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid became a global bestseller and sensation.

Trend 6. Graphic novels get respect. This sector of the publishing business has flourished not only financially but also artistically. Graphic novels have come a long way from their comic book roots. American Born Chinese is not just a great graphic novel, it’s a great novel, period.

Trend 7. “Girl” books. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The Girl on the Train. Gone Girl. In the future, sociologists will explain why books about women in dangerous situations had to have a title with “Girl” in it.

What trends have you noticed in recent American fiction?

What book do you think should be included in a Recent American Fiction class?


Kait said...

Hum, I missed some of these trends and others I never understood--zombies and vampires to name two. Just not cut out for horror, I guess.

This post is fascinating, especially because of your unique position which as a librarian which gives you a broad-based viewpoint. Now that you have pointed it out, I wonder what the "Girl" trend will say about us to future scholars. And I wonder what it says about the authors. Does referring to these women as "girls" excuse some rather distasteful behaviors in the books? Is it meant to imply that when they become women all will be well? Curious.

Margaret Turkevich said...

I suggested that Art Taylor include Maria Semple's Where'd You go Bernadette on his syllabus. Semple nailed her characters and setting. The book is hilarious.

I'm up for anything that keeps kids reading after fourth grade, as long as it's well-written.

The only "girl" book I've read and enjoyed was Allison Leotta's The Last Good Girl, which focuses on the campus rape culture. She's a former sex crimes Federal prosecutor, so the book bristles with authenticity.

Art Taylor said...

Thanks for the shout-out here, Shari--and for the fascinating post generally! And I found your point on "literature" versus "fiction" interesting--something that hadn't crossed my own mind (the course was named long before it was assigned to me) but that makes perfect sense.

And Margaret, Maria Semple is high on the list now--I think it would be great to include!

Grace Topping said...

Terrific post, Shari. I also like the term "fiction" rather than "literature" for the course. It will probably attract far more students. How about books written by Americans set in foreign countries? In that case, I would like to recommend the inclusion of Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series. Fabulous series that features lots of history and a bit of time travel. Sorry, no "girl" books for me.

Good luck, Art, in making your selection. No matter what you select, you'll have people wondering why you didn't select X, Y, or Z.

Margaret, I loved "Where'd You Go Bernadette."

Gloria Alden said...

I'm not into vampires or zombies, either. But three books that were read and enjoyed by by
one or both of my book clubs were "The Little Paris Bookshop" by Nina George, "Remarkable
Creatures" by Tracy Chevalier, and a book I think every teach should recommend for young adults, "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio. I know if I go through the list of books chosen by my
book clubs there would be more.

As far as for mysteries which are my favorite reads, there are too many mystery authors I
enjoy to list here including all those written by my fellow bloggers.

KM Rockwood said...

The popular new books just prove that there's more of a reading population out there than we really appreciate, if the right books can come to the attention of the people who would like them.

I taught special education for a while in an alternative school. Sometimes, I had self-contained classes of students with modified curriculum. One May, late in the school year, I had a student placed in my class. It wasn't really the right placement academically, since my class consisted of students who would not receive diplomas, but this very bright student was returning from a county jail where he had not been receiving any educational services, and there was no way he could pass any classes to receive credit in the short time left in the semester. He had an unfortunate history of emotional disturbance and violence. The court had ordered him to attend school, and I had previously been one of his teachers, so he knew me.

We needed to choose a reading project. I suggested Harry Potter. Most of the students, all high school age or older, felt that was a children's book and didn't think they were interested. My new student, who the others knew from before his incarceration,glared at the other students and said, "Well, I want to read Harry Potter." We did, and everyone loved it.

Another time, a student of mine took home one of the Twilight books to read over winter break. When he came back, he told me he was reading it in his room, which he shared with an uncle and several cousins. His uncle came in, saw him reading, and said, "What have you done with my nephew, and why are you reading a book?"

Warren Bull said...

How interesting. I usually see trends after they have passed their peak.