Thursday, 14 July 2011

Why I read crime fiction

Leigh Russell recently blogged about why she writes crime fiction. I don't write any (yet), but I thought that the appeal of crime fiction would be an interesting topic for a post. So why do I read crime fiction?

While I read "serious" literature and even studied it as an academic, I am a genre reader. Crime fiction especially. The first novels I managed to get through as a child was Agatha Christie's. After a few years, I grew out of whodunits and Christie is now a far away memory. But a few years after, when I was a young adult, I started reading Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett and then a string of American crime novelists, I started reading hardboiled novels, romans noirs, etc. And I got hooked again. I am still.

I read crime fiction because it is the genre of modernity, it is the fiction that espouses better our time and because it is also one that often shows a reality that may be far from pretty but that is necessary to see. I say reality, as I think it reveals it, albeit sometimes in the exagerated tones of caricature and escapism, life and civilisation as it is. Crime fiction belongs to realism.

It is also a hell of an entertaining genre. It deals with sex, violence, greed, jealousy, anger, the primitive pulsions of mankind. That is always nice to witness it. Those emotions create such brilliant, beautiful, larger than life characters.There is a cathartic notion, central to crime fiction. There is also a certain notion of solace in it: when in reality (always way to real in comparison to even a realistic genre) urban violence and criminality is helped by endemic corruption, the impotence of the justice system, sometimes a flawed police force, it is nice to see that the good guys can win, at least in fiction.

So that's why I read crime fiction.

1 comment:

PJ said...

Moi ça n'a jamais été mon truc, même si je reconnais l'attrait. Il faut dire que je ne lis plus beaucoup de fiction. Et j'ai l'intégrale des Conan à me taper. J'ai pas fini le Mabinogion. J'ai pas encore lu Le théroème du perroquet, ou le roman de Hugh Laurie. En attendant, je me retape les Mafalda. Ça, c'est toujours moderne, même si elle a déjà plus de 40 ans.