Though I was in my early teens, already I could tell from the big, swirly letters on cover that this was “popular” fiction, not “literature.” Indeed, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. And yet the prose was attentive and measured. Not only was the physical setting (a mansion by the sea) lushly depicted, but the psychological landscape, too, was achingly precise; I still recall the young protagonist’s yearning for her husband’s love—her longing for intimacy and affirmation, and her acute attention to what his every word or action might indicate about his feelings. As much as the story is a gothic mystery, it is also realistic portrayal of the way that relationships sag under the weight of unspoken truths. And this is just one of the reasons du Maurier deserves to be viewed—as she herself long desired—as a “serious” writer of talent and depth.
I never considered Rebecca “popular” fiction. I didn’t even think there were people who thought that. I didn’t know to think there were people who thought that.
I lumped Rebecca in with Jane Eyre (which I love) and Wuthering Heights (which I hate.) They are Gothic romances that became popular because of the violence and romance but stayed popular because of their quality.
Kalotay’s thoughts are a nice addendum to Picoult and Weiner’s opinions on popular versus literary fiction, and our own dual review of Rebecca.
2. Apparently, Google Books has hit some snags. Who knew that compiling a database of every book ever produced could be so complicated?
3. John Forgetta, the creator of The Meaning of Lila, gave us a nice shout-out after we mentioned him in a previous post.
It makes me sad that Forgetta’s comic strip, which is based in Cleveland, doesn’t get more local love. I guess newspapers only have one slot for local talent and it goes to Tom Batiuk. (Not that we have anything against Batiuk. We don’t.)
4. Finally, McSweeney’s presents As I Sat Writing, the autobiography of William Faulkner.
-Jason Lea, JLea@News-Herald.com