Fantasy throwdown finale

Just FYI, I finally cobbled together a response to the screaming hordes of fantasy fans calling for my head in the “Don’t Talk to Me About Reading” post. You can read it here.

For your convenience, the “Fantasy Throwdown” — the most popular and most vilified series of posts in the storied history of this blog — went like this:

The original post: “Don’t talk to me about reading — or, cranky much?”

The followup: Yeeeeaugh! More on the fantasy throwdown”

The Postscript: Where I explain myself… again.



  1. Oh Boy! An opinion fight! I went to B&N and did a search for Fantasy Fiction. This is a description (from the publisher) of the top seller:

    “Meet the D’Artigo sisters: half-human, half-faerie, they’re savvy-and sexy-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. But their mixed-blood heritage short-circuits their talents at all the wrong times. Delilah shapeshifts into a tabby cat whenever she’s stressed. Menolly’s a vampire who’s still trying to get the hang of being undead. And Camille is a wicked-good witch, except her magic’s as unpredictable as the weather, as her enemies are about to find out-the hard way”

    Take that Shakespeare you second rate hack!

    Sure, Literature with a capital “L” is filled with scatalogical humor and fart jokes, but Chaucer and Rabelais were GOOD writers. I could barely read the description of aforementioned book without laughing, I hope whoever wrote it got a good price for his dignity. I’m sure the, um, nerds will rise up to defend it, but really, if it has to be explained why it’s so bad… Damn, Tuffy you sure stuck a nerve, keep up the good work, God knows I love a gadfly. And to all the Fantasy Apologists: “Methinks thou protest too much” Tell ’em Bill!

  2. ANY fantasy reader that takes their genre seriously as an art form is living in a dream world populated by sprites, whimsical fairies and leering, evil trolls who terrorize the little folk.
    It is not a field known for its stylistic or thematic innovation, it is a genre frozen and calcified, in desperate need of remaking. Too much hackwork, sharecropping, interminable series that milk for every last dollar from undemanding fans. The nerds squeal and flame when you attack their sacred cows and the only responses they can come up with involve defensiveness and invective (I’ve found it’s the same with SF folk). A few belated examples of “good” fantasy, often citing writers (Calvino, Marquez, Jonathan Carroll, Crowley, Beagle) that wouldn’t be caught DEAD in the fantasy camp. Tuffy, you go, girl!

  3. It may be weird but I just can’t take anyone who bases their opinion on a publisher’s book jacket found on B&N seriously. (I mean if that’s what you’re using to decide what’s “Literature”….)

  4. Thanks Cliff, I will go. Project, was that really the top seller for that search? What a riot! It’s like the author put a bunch of chips in the grab bag and drew them out … “tabby cat … vampire … wicked-good…”

  5. The childrens literature actually looked more interesting to me, but yeah, that was the top for the adult category. I think I searched fantasy fiction, they had several categories, I think the exact category was “Contemporary Fantasy Fiction”, or something like that. Really if stuff like that is your guilty pleasure, then fine, I like disco. If the ren-faire crowd rose up and said, hey Tuffy, I like this stuff, it’s just fun, escapist literature, this whole free-for-all would’ve been over before it started. When you start camparing this to Milton and Shakespeare, though… I can’t imagine that this is the highest quality piece of work in the genre, but if it’s representative of what’s most popular I can see why the whole fuss started.

  6. Yeah, I think the fantasy genre probably contains just as much good stuff as any other genre. Somebody commented that most literary fiction sucks too, and I agree with them. It always takes digging to find the good stuff. What I don’t get is the fans’ … I dunno what you’d call it … readerly pride, if that makes sense, and their refusal to pan books that suck, both of which result in the Shakespeare thing.

    All that said, I didn’t set out to make some sweeping point about The Right Way To Approach Modern Literature or whatever. I was just bitching. But I never meant for them to… uh… find out about it.

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