I am an unabashed fantasy nerd. I was raised on Harry Potter, YA vampire novels, Brandon Sanderson, and Dungeons & Dragons. I still play World of Warcraft and I world-build for fun, but my entire life, I have heard fantasy--and genre fiction in general--referred to as a “guilty pleasure.”
With the explosion of YA and genre fiction in the past decade or so, the literary world has seen many arguments for the distinction between genre fiction and literary fiction and, in many cases, for literary fiction’s superiority. Arthur Krystal, in his piece “Easy Writers” for The New Yorker, promotes this hierarchy on the basis of genre fiction’s disproportionate focus on archetypal plot and inherent escapism. He describes genre fiction as “a narrative cocktail that helps us temporarily forget the narratives of our own humdrum lives.” I read this article a few months ago and felt the familiar sting of shame for my love of fantasy fiction.