Crime Fiction Isn’t Real Fiction. Except When It Is. But Wait…

James Wood has a nice piece on Richard Price‘s Lush Life–though in truth it’s actually a neat little primer on how great dialogue does useful figurative work and isn’t just a play at “realism.” All the same, I stopped paying close attention when I got to this line:

Price has greater novelistic ambitions than his genre can accommodate, and one longs to see him free himself from the tram track of the police procedural. For that is exactly what his language does, time and again: it breaks away.

If his language successfully transcends genre fiction, then what is it he needs to break free of? Wood’s complaint here seems close to the argument that genre fiction can’t be “real” fiction. Lacking much background on Wood, I can’t speak to his long-held opinions on the matter, but it seems like a shallow argument that’s beneath his stature.

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