Here’s what literary fiction looks like. These examples are from The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy.
. . . she would reveal to us in her storytelling voice that salmon dreamed of mountain passes and the brown faces of grizzlies hovering over clear rapids. Copperheads, she would say, dreamed of placing their fangs in the shinbones of hunters. Ospreys slept with their feathered, plummeting dreamselves screaming through deep, slow-motion dives toward herring. (p.2)
When have you ever seen such imagery, such transformative imaginings? A little further down the same page, Conroy continues to describe his mother’s mind.
Each day she would take us into the forest or garden and invent a name for any animal or flower we passed. A monarch butterfly became an “orchid-kissing blacklegs”; a field of daffodils in April turned into a “dance of the butter ladies bonneted.”
I’m sure a thorough discussion of the literary genre would bring up other qualities, but the fine use of language is certainly one of its hallmarks. I haven’t finished the book yet, but the depth of characterization has yielded characters I will remember always. So I do admire this book and this author, yet I still relish a good romance or mystery or historical. And fresh imagery pops up in those genres, too, though I don’t think anyone can top these few examples from The Prince of Tides.
Gretchen’s latest historical, Crimson Sky, is set among the pueblos of 1598 when the Spanish Conquistadors came into the land. www.gretchencraig.com. Latest historical, Crimson Sky, set in 1598 when the Spanish Conquistadors came into the land of the pueblos.