"literary"? Literature has many definitions, but for our purposes what qualifies as "literary" is whether it focuses primarily on texts with aesthetic merit. In other words, texts that show quality not only in narrative but also in the effect of their language and structure.”
I started thinking about this and without a moments hesitation went straight for my comfort zone, that position we all have, like some big old comfy chair & with less than a seconds doubt reached, guns blazing for the usual suspects that I pull out when questions of this nature surface. Bang bang down went Dickens. Kerpow, next Austen and without even pausing, (bandanna askew) screaming with all the subtle nuance of a faux Rambo, I reached for a fresh bandolier before emptying both barrels into Potter & his ilk. But…… the question was still there and like some barghest, the Ladies of the Blue Bookcase had sent to trail after me, made me reappraise this stock response, made me pause & think what I really felt. Admittedly this hasn’t changed my dislike of the above mentioned brethren of Beelzebub, just made me aware that this had nothing to do with their perceived literary merit, which in my usual circuitous fashion has brought me back to the question – “What books have you read that have been hyped as literary and, in your opinion, were not?”- The simple answer is “ I haven’t any”. It’s not how I choose books, I may find out later that this book was the saviour of the human race, or that it was personally responsible for the extinction of several rare fauna, but at the time my decision is based purely on some ill-defined quality I saw in the particular book. In fact the term “Literary” can kill a book, there are stacks of books that are considered as though they were some giant edifice, Everest-like their climbing is a once in a lifetime feat, “just not today”, or are thought of as too literary & “not for the likes of me” with the end result being what could have been a wonderful relationship with a book or writer is stifled before it has even a chance to blossom, this to me is the greater crime, we can all stand the disappointment of the odd overhyped script, give it a week and it will be replaced by a plethora of new titles, but a book ignored or placed perpetually on the TBR, booked for a date sometime close to your last hail Marys, is a book close to it’s own death.