The paired subjects of literary quality and the relative merits of certain scorned genres have always interested me. Fine writing can be found in many books which are generally ignored by the cloistered mavens of “real” literature.
No-one writes convincing dialogue of modern-day people as well as Elmore Leonard, Stephen King, and Donald Westlake. Michael Chabon, in novels such as “The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay”, continues this tradition. A quote from a 2008 LA Times interview:
I’d like to believe that, because I read for entertainment, and I write to entertain. Period. Oh, I could decoct a brew of other, more impressive motivations and explanations. I could uncork some stuff about reader response theory, or the Lacanian parole. I could go on about the storytelling impulse and the need to make sense of experience through story. A spritz of Jung might scent the air. I could adduce Kafka’s formula: “A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.” I could go down to the cafe at the local mega-bookstore and take some wise words of Abelard or Koestler about the power of literature off a mug. But in the end — here’s my point — it would still all boil down to entertainment, and its suave henchman, pleasure. Because when the axe bites the ice, you feel an answering throb of delight all the way from your hands to your shoulders, and the blade tolls like a bell for miles.
You can read the entire interview here: