But this aversion to horror fiction wasn’t the only thing that kept me from King’s work. No, for I’d informally decided sometime around my fiftieth birthday that ninety-nine percent of my fiction reading (and I was at a point in my life where I was calculating how many books I was going to be able to read before I came down with dementia or died) would be devoted to certifiably literary fiction (by both the dead and the living, and including dead and living writers of certifiably literary genre novels) and books by friends and acquaintances. I would keep my raffine literary nose out of books of pulp.
It's an intermittently interesting piece, and way too self-obsessed (Edward Champion, who brought the piece to my attention on Twitter seems to hate the whole thing). My big problem with the above quote is the word "certifiably." Who "certifies" a novel's "literary" merit? The critics? There aren't very many of us left. Who decides that language is more important to a novel than plot? Allen's use of the word "literary" seems to be synonymous with "good," and it also seems to be tied together with academia. Some teachers, and many critics, seem to believe that a book is just a conglomeration of sentences, and they keep track of the beauty and cleverness of each sentence, ultimately tallying that score to determine a book's literary merit.
This is not to say that Stephen King's books are all good. He has lately produced a string of stinkers, from Under the Dome to 11/22/63. King has written some very good books, though if you were to judge them the same way you judge, say, John Updike's fiction, you would of course be disappointed. I just don't see the point in drawing these silly lines. I kind of thought this discussion about the worthiness of genre and pulp and popular fiction was, finally, over.