As my last, incredulous post shows, our novel teacher this year actually understands genre writing. This is fab. I had somehow thought that it would bleed into her selections for our reading list, too (that I wouldn’t be stuck trying to apply the techniques Sebald uses in Austerlitz to my romance novel).
Silly me. Studying genre fiction? In a serious writing course? Not even RMIT would go there.
Still, before I had been disabused of my optimism, I approached Peter Temple’s Truth thinking, “Here’s a crime novel! I suspect I have a lot of interesting things to learn from the genre, that’s applicable to my writing! I suspect it will be an engaging, invigorating read!”
Here’s the opening line:
On the Westgate Bridge, behind them a flat in Altona, a dead woman, a girl really, dirty hair, dyed red, pale roots, she was stabbed too many times to count, stomach, chest, back, face.
Before you assume it’s the violence – it’s not. It’s the fact that it took me a good couple of minutes in real time to figure out what the hell it meant. They were on the Westgate Bridge, but somehow Altona was behind them? Behind figuratively? Are they in front of the flat, but mentally on the Westgate Bridge? Has the woman maybe jumped off the Bridge but the Altona flat, her home, is there with them as a non-physical factor?
So far, I hate this book. The dialogue makes no sense, the not-dialogue is overly wordy – which my writing is, too, to be fair – but in a “these are just the facts, I draw no conclusions” kind of way. It fells very, very male, if that’s a fair thing to say. (It’s probably not.)
I assume I don’t understand the pace and rhythm of the genre. This is, most likely, what someone would feel like stumbling on a romance novel for the first time, if love wasn’t really their thing.
But honestly, would it be too much to study just one genre novel in the year? Considering the percentage of genre to literary writers in the class is more like 50, that seems more than fair.