I'll get to the book later, but let's talk about that word literary first. I've never liked it, but I could never quite figure out why. It's a favorite of anti-genre snobs, of course, but one learns to tolerate idiots like that.
Then it hit me: literary as a label is a kind of intellectual Viagra, a confidence booster for book buyers so insecure about their own tastes that they need to be reassured of a book's respectability before they'll plunk down their $24.99.
I'm all for the qualities that I think marketers have in mind when they call a book literary. Call Winterland stylistically adventurous, and I'll agree with you. Say that it tests the boundaries of thriller and crime conventions, and I'll give a little cheer. But call it literary, and I'm liable to roll my eyes, think, "What the &*(*&*#$ does that mean?", and choose another book instead. I'd likely have done so with Winterland had I not heard good things about the novel from people I trust, none of whom called it literary.
So, what does literary mean to you? What do you think it means to publishers, publicists and reviewers, especially with respect to crime fiction?
© Peter Rozovsky 2010