In a recent interview with NPR’s Leonard Lopate author Matthew Quick confessed that while working toward his MFA he aspired to write “high brow” literature in the style of Nobel Prize winning author, Gao Xingjian. It wasn’t until he watched the movie Little Miss Sunshine, that Quick recognized the kind of writer he really wanted to be and discovered the sort of stories he really wanted to tell. Growing up in Philadelphia and New Jersey, Quick identified more with the quirky characters and working class sensibilities depicted in that endearing independent film than with the exotic sometimes fantastical and frequently pedantic prose of Gao’s work.
I suspect that many of us seduced by the written word considered, at one time or another, that the only writing that counted was the kind critics lauded as great literature. I imagine it took most of us awhile to get comfortable exploring more pedestrian fare, flirting with less cultured genres like romances, mysteries, thrillers or science fiction.
Fortunately, age, experience or wisdom liberates us from the shackles of punctilious script allowing us to revel in all of manner printed material, which is especially advantageous since we are currently enjoying a writing renaissance. We live in an age of unparalleled access to a veritable smorgasbord of writing. As readers and writers we can indulge, not only in various types of fiction, but also in a limitless number of magazine articles on any subject from kangaroos to Kardashians,(I didn’t say it was always a good thing!) blog posts, Facebook entries, memoirs, creative non-fiction, burgeoning breeds of poetry, ever increasing science journals, and everything in between. No time to read? No problem! Chances are you can listen to whatever your missing in the car on your way to work or on your iPod at the gym. And let’s not forget the extraordinary writing that is cropping up in the world of television and film. From sketch comedy (Key and Peele) to cable T.V. (Mad Men) to blockbuster movies (Her) we are routinely surrounded by innovative inspired writing.
Matthew Quick would probably agree since his novel, The Silver Linings Playbook, was made into an Oscar winning film in 2013 and another of his works was recently optioned by Hollywood. He still loves “high brow” literature and Gao Xingjian’s novel, Soul Mountain, remains one of his favorite reads. But for Matthew Quick and writers everywhere it’s nice to know there is plenty of room for everyone to claim their place on this ever expanding continuum.