First, let it be known that I am not a knitter. I am hopeless at any craft involving fabrics, sticks or needles. I do, however, appreciate a good yarn. Literary yarn that is. Which is why I have zero patience with literary snobs of any kind. In fact, it seems to me they have misunderstood the concept of reading – or storytelling itself.
To me, there is no ‘wrong’ book – on the contrary: there’s a book for every occasion (yay!). Very much like food, really: some book are plain but healthy for you, then there’s the hearty meal, dripping with gravy, the refined meal that you savor slowly – and then there’s comfort food: completely useless – just fat and sugar – but oh! So good!
I think I would’ve been a miserable reader if I didn’t read a lot in a lot of genres. If I ate the same thing everyday, I would be bored and malnourished. Sometimes the best thing in the world is to lose myself in a challenging tomb – and stay there for a week. Other times I tear through paranormal romances like candy.
Summertime is perfect to read up on YA. When fall comes along, I usually read dark fantasy and horror. In between and sometimes simultaneously (since the genre system is at best, faulty) I read Literary fiction and classics, with a sprinkle of Mystery and Crime on top.
There’s so much interesting one can do with yarn: and it comes in all shades of color (even grey). Natural wool is gorgeous – sometimes. But the sparkly, pink yarn is nice too. If someone was to tell me I was only allowed to wear the one, I’d be a furious fashionista indeed.
My point is: it wont make us more interesting as readers, writers, editors or people, if we stick to the same yarn all the time. How will the new, exciting patters emerge if we don’t try some of this and some of that – and let ourselves be inspired? We urge our kids to try new foods, and we should be better too, at tasting the unfamiliar. We might be surprised, and even add a new color to our own repertoire.
To say that this yarn is better than that yarn is a very little thought through approach (there’s a lot of bad yarn out there, of course, but that’s a whole different story). Some yarn might be of a better quality, but it doesn’t make the pretty one useless (it’s pretty!). Personally I’m not too fond of Romance, but that doesn’t mean I think less of avid Romance readers. I can see the appeal, it’s just not for me. In fact, I think literary snobbery might actually be a symptom of stupidity. If you deny yourself – and others – the sparkly yarn, you’re not looking closely enough at the yarn in question. All yarn has its value as long as you take it for what it is. If all the yearn came from the same sheep and the same spinner, there would be far less (fertile) discussions, and far less readers and writers in this world. You can’t compare the thick winter yarn to the flimsy yarn of summer. They are completely different creatures with different things to offer. The only thing they have in common is that they’re both yarn. The correct thing to do in this situation is to buy them both and appreciate the one in winter and the other in summer – and own them both with pride.
I have a degree in literature and have read more classics than most, I know what “quality fiction” aims to be, and fails to be, sometimes… What my education did not teach me, was why I should read this and not that. Why genre fiction is supposed to be “less” (and what is this ‘genres’, anyway?). It did teach me that old yarn earns some gold that makes Epic Fantasy (Homer) and Adventure Thrillers (Scandinavian sagas) acceptable in high-brow company. It also taught me that all yarn is wool, and deals with the same, basic human emotions, no matter how its spun.
To me, storytelling is craft rather than art. It’s an old tradition created to express creativity and imagination – much like knitting, really, but without the benefit of warm garments. Like all crafts it has developed over centuries, and is still developing – to become something else. That’s the beauty of it, as I see it: how it changes and evolves – just like people, really. But if we cease being curious and look around for new impulses, the development is pretty soon stalled. Close-mindedness is nobody’s friend…
And here goes the battle cry:
Read vast, knit hard!