The uses of bad fiction

Matthew Cheney has just posted a thoughtful discussion of “Created He Them”, one of the stories in Daughters of Earth. I agree with him that it is one of the best stories in the collection and definitely one of the most haunting. And Yaszek’s essay adds layers upon layers.

Matthew says that he would not describe all of the stories in the collection as “good”. Singling out Wilhelm’s “No Light in the Window” and goes on to remark:

    Indeed, an anthology such as this, one that seeks to examine and re-examine particular types of writing within their historical and political contexts, would do a disservice by including only great stories, because that would create a false picture of literary history. [Which is not to suggest there aren’t great stories here — there are.] The essays are insightful, and the stories provide the material for their insights, thus creating a new context, one in which a discussion occurs between generations and various types of writers.

And that, dear readers, is exactly what I was going for. Bless you, Mr Cheney!

Although I wouldn’t describe any of the stories in the collection as bad per se (well, okay, the first one maybe) I’ve long believed that you can learn just as much from bad fiction as from good. Actually more. When something is badly written its operations are very close to the surface—you can see what’s going on more clearly than in something that’s extremely well-written.

See, Archer girls? This is the advice that I give everyone! Sometime when I’m not in a huge hurry I’ll give some examples.

And now I must race to get ready for Scott’s keynote address here in Seattle.

One comment

  1. A.R.Yngve on #

    I agree 100%.

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