Please welcome to my blog today, guest blogger Jennifer Griffith. She's the author of the phenomenal new book, Big in Japan, and is a fellow Jolly Fish Press author! Welcome Jennifer!
(Follow Friday Below.)
A New Definition for the Great American Novel
I remember a few years ago when I was just starting to write, my mom asked me to call a lady from our town and visit with her about my aspirations. The lady encouraged me, and as she’d been a writer herself for many years, she shared excitement and made me think maybe I could really do this.
However, at the end of our conversation, she said something along the lines of, “Wouldn’t you like to create something lasting, something that can really make a difference?”
I was taken aback.
While I murmured consent, I was thinking inside, “Why would I want to do that? I want to write something that’s fun! And that people want to read just because.”
Guilt Takes Hold, Fluffiness Triumphs
Then, of course, being me I was sorely perplexed and overcome by guilt. Surely I shouldwant to create a book that meant something deep and truthful, or something that elevated the human condition. The so-called Great American Novel. The book that could turn minds around. The book that required hours of introspection once the reader set it down. The book that resonated.
But the stories in my head? They were fluffy. They were funny. They had people scraping by amidst myriad embarrassing moments and trying to muddle through with a modicum of self-respect.
They were in no way the Great American Novel.
They were cotton candy instead. Light, sweet, gone.
And yet, they got picked up by publishers, and read by their intended audience. For instance, my second novel is about a girl who (get this!) goes to college(!) and grows up a little (!). Shocker—it made it to the top of the Deseret Book sales list. Number one. (Yippee!) Briefly, sure, but whatever!
What is Greatness, Then? Let’s Dumb it Down, Shall We?
Why is this? These stories and others like them still sell. I mean, look at sales of romance novels. Through the roof! And no one is going to mistake them for books having aspirations at earth-shattering literature.
I don’t know about everyone else, but after a long day with…life, I don’t want to hunker down with a book that’s setting out to change the way I think or explore some great injustice of society or designed to even provoke thought.
I want candy. Candy for my head. Chocolate, preferably, but I’ll take licorice, or whatever.
There are great novels that serve this very important function.
Case in Point, er, Cases
|Photo Credit: JollyFishPress.com|
Last week, I got a Facebook message from Ken, an American friend I knew in Japan. He’s now a U.S. soldier on active duty and said he’d taken Big in Japan (my newest novel about a super-tall obese Texan who goes to Japan and accidentally becomes the first blond sumo wrestler) with him on his latest flight to Afghanistan, or “The Stan” as my deployed cousin Jed calls it.
“It was a great way to pass 10 hours,” Ken said. That was one of the nicest compliments I could’ve received.
Great With a Small G
Call me a dumber-downer if you must, but I just don’t think it’s necessary for every American novel to be Great-with-a-capital-G. A great novel can be great without being heavy or pithy. Maybe a great book just needs to be great for the reader. A great novel can be a great escape from the storms and wars in our lives. A great novel can be a nice few hours away from pressure and worries.
It can just be a great read.
Jennifer Griffith’s fourth novel, Big in Japan, is in bookstores and online wherever books and ebooks are sold. Jennifer and her husband live in Arizona where they are raising five kids and Jennifer is in a constant battle for household supremacy with her naughty dog. She is on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/
AuthorJenniferGriffith) and Twitter (@GriffithJen). Her website is http:// authorjennifergriffith.com.
Thank you so much, Jennifer! What an amazing post! Everyone hop over to her blog and facebook page if you have a minute and follow her! Also, check out Follow Friday below! :D
Welcome to Follow Friday!
This meme is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee's View! :D
Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.
The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!
How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!
Q: What hyped up book do you think was not worth all the talk?
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People might hate me for this, and I'm not sure it's a great answer anyway because the book is quite old and I don't remember if there was a lot of hype around it. I'm not a huge Phillipa Boyens fan. I didn't particularly like The Other Boleyn Girl. It wasn't the story of the writing, but rather the interpretation. The author ignored well-known facts in order to demonize who she wanted to in history and buoy up who she was rooting for. I just didn't particularly agree with her take on history. That's all.
How about you? What book were you disappointed in?