Ode to New Genres


The cast. Yes, it’s a book about superheroes, but no, it’s not what you think.

I was in that happy place of having finished one good book and thinking about what the next one would be last night, when I asked my neighbor/friend if I could take a look at his bookshelf. As he was recommending titles to me, his brother (who’s in town) strolled past and jokingly pulled out the graphic novel Watchmenby Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Maybe because nothing else was calling to me, I thought “What the hell,” and decided to give it a shot. I think the scales were tipped out of guilt, if anything: I teach a course called Literature for Adolescents and every time we come to the graphic novel unit I feel like somewhat of an impostor because I’ve read only the graphic novels on the syllabus, and no others (they include PersepolisAmerican Born Chinese, and Maus, by the way– all of which are awesome).

But holy cow. I had no idea that graphic novels could be like this. The art, the layering of dialogue, the fascinating and creative interplay of image and text… just, wow. I can’t put it down. (Those who know me or live near me know that I’m really loving a book when I read it while walking the dog, or strolling to the bus stop.)

So, I just wanted to give a little shout out to unusual genres. It’s so easy to get stuck in a literature rut, but last night a whim took me out of it and introduced me to one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time. What other interesting genres do I not know enough about?

P.S. If you’re now considering reading it, Watchmen is a violent and dark book. It’s probably not for everyone.


My favorite character so far, Dr. Manhattan


4 thoughts on “Ode to New Genres

  1. I am learning to love graphic novels and other kinds of multi-genre work, especially when it is student created. Tom Romano wrote a really great book called _Blending Genre, Altering Style_ that addresses mixed genre work for student writers. Have you read it?

  2. Duh! Sorry I couldn’t find this earlier. You have to click on the comments as though you are going to read them in order to get to this place to leave a reply. On the last post in your stream it has another option to leave a comment and I was looking for that on this post. As usual for me – user error is to blame.

    Just thought I would add this to the conversation. My son, who is my unwitting scientific guinea pig, has been re-reading (and re-reading) the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books (I would be mildly horrified, but he just uses these to fill in between his obsessive and fast reading of pretty much anything else). When I asked him why he likes to re-read them so many times, he said that because there are “the comics” you can see much more each time. I thought that was great because I have had the same experience with non-graphic novels. In the good ones, I “see” something new each time. Randomly, and maybe not related, is that my parents are avid comic readers (like in the newspaper) and always read the comics to him when he was little. I don’t find the comics to be funny and he laughs his head off (and so do my parents) at the comics. There is a vocabulary in the art and the learned language of that genre that is partially lost on me. I like thinking how those comics are related to the graphic novel, like are they the one celled organisms the graphic novel evolved from?

    Anyway a long ramble, but your post was great and really got me thinking about genre. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s