Sunday, November 15, 2015

Does Crime Fiction Do a Better Job of Tackling the Issues of the Day Than Literary Novels Do?

Based entirely on my own reading choices, I've come to believe that modern day crime fiction does a better job of tackling the issues of the day than straight-up literary fiction does.  Perhaps that's because so many present day events are violent or otherwise horrifying (or have the potential to be those things) that they leave most of us shaking our heads in near shock. What better subjects are there for books that can both explore the problems and bring them to a resolution of one sort or another?  Literary fiction, on the other hand, seems more likely to deal with the emotional, internal conflicts of its chief characters.

The Guardian, just today, has an illuminating article on the Inspector Rebus novels of Scottish author Ian Rankin that touches on that thought a bit.  The chief premise of the piece, one with which fans of the novels are certain to agree, is that the Rebus novels are likely to "endure" for generations to come because each of them so vividly capture "a specific time and place" (that place usually being Edinburgh).  

Rankin has been writing the Rebus novels long enough now that his regional readers (and others who know a little of the city's history) can't help but feel a bit nostalgic when they read one of the Rebus books set in previous decades.  Writer Sam Jordinson says in the article:
My certainty comes from the idea that these books will continue to have historical value. Each is a finely rendered snapshot of a specific time and place. The descriptions of 1980s Edinburgh struck me forcefully when I read Knots and Crosses last week (alongside plenty of other Reading group contributors). This week, reading The Falls, I was even more aware of how well the novel captures a specific time. And how interesting it was to realise that this era now seems long gone, even though the novel was only published in 2001.

 I find the following YouTube video to be fascinating because of how it intersperces clips from the John Rebus television series with an interview in which Ian Rankin describes the Rebus character of the books vs. the Rebus of the videos. But as it turns out, Rankin has never seen one of the videos, and he refuses to watch for now because he doesn't want the film Rebus to distort the Rebus he presents in his novels. Here's hoping that he doesn't watch the films for a long, long time...just keep writing, Mr. Rankin.

 Take a look:

No comments:

Post a Comment