Baker's Oven

Horror still doesn’t get respect

GONE FISHING: There's still a stigma associated with horror writing. Perhaps it comes from Stephen King's quote, "I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries."
GONE FISHING: There’s still a stigma associated with horror writing. Perhaps it comes from Stephen King’s quote, “I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries.”

I stepped through the doors of Ten Editions to be greeted by the sweet smell of aged books.

That nutty aroma filled my cavities as I crossed the threshold of the shop for the first time in a decade. I attended U of T from 1998 – 2003, and Ten Editions was one of the quick shops to grab books on the cheap — for English classes that is.

Books papered the walls from top to bottom, and the clutter made me feel at home.

Not that I’m a hoarder. Far from it, as I typically evict my abode’s detritus in the spring and fall. But I digress.

My comfort level took a dip when I asked the lady, hidden behind a blast wall of books, where the horror section was.

I was met with a glare over bifocals, and firm dismissal. No horror.

No horror? I scanned through most of the books and there was a handful of science fiction, and a plethora of discarded literary tomes. Of course, CanLit was well represented. The Vanderhaeghe on the shelves dripped like sap from maple trees.

With this dismissal of horror, it brought back memories of all those folks who look down on the genre. Or any genre for that matter. Canada has this cultural stigma, nurtured throughout high school, that anything other than the literary greats of our time has no merit.

Ergo teens are subjected to Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Robertson Davies and told they’re supposed to like it. I’m not saying Stephen King or Carl Hiaasen should be taught in the classroom, but if you want kids to like reading and learn to do so effectively, don’t force-feed the same tired tales.

Perhaps Stephen King’s quote, equating his work to the literary equivalent of a Big Mac with fries has done horror no favours to those with burrs up their posteriors.

I find it amusing, through my own perusal of books that the themes touched on in Canadian literature, from Atwood to Gowdy, all cross into genre territory. We So Seldom Look On Love wade into the grotesque, as Gowdy often does. Atwood has always traveled the science fiction route with titles like The Handmaid’s Tale and The Oryx and the Crake.

But they’re literary, and of course these dalliances with genre are perfectly legit. (There’s sarcasm in my words).

In my exploits as an entertainment reporter the biggest theme is the apathy for Canadians and art. The uptight will latch on to the token artistic standbys, but shun those with success abroad or in the process of

There appears to be no room for niche or genre. Though the frozen doors of the established literati seem to be thawing, there are still those who refuse to expand their minds, and I will continue to voice my displeasure.


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