Reading one another: the insights of literary fiction

If you’ve ever been puzzled at the success of the latest “it” book and wondered what all the fuss is about or been saddened that no-one you know is as excited about the latest Peter Carey book as you are, you may be rattling about like a solitary dried pea in the lonely world of literary fiction love. It’s cold there, but still gratifying. You can always tell yourself that you are one of the cool kids. Well, the other day, I found another consolation for loving literary fiction. According to a recent study by two scholars at the New School for Social Research, David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, the complexities and ambiguities of literary fiction make readers better able to guess at the motivations, emotions and beliefs of the people around them. The study revealed that this benefit does not come with reading popular fiction, given its reliance on stereotypical and uncomplicated characters. Another study reveals that literary fiction strengthens the reader’s ability to tolerate uncertainty, a factor that allows one to think creatively and absorb contradictory ideas at the same time.

I have a profound admiration for scientists, and invite you to take a minute to read both articles about the respective studies, to dip into the world of ‘knowing’ and ‘quantifying’, before you sink your nose back into that book and are back to wandering (and wondering) once more.

Salon: Jonathan Franzen can help you read people.

Pacific Standard: Reading literature opens minds.

 

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The Kindle Book Review: a review of A Deconstructed Heart that brought tears to my eyes…

Every now and then a reviewer totally ‘gets’ it. This is evidenced, not by a five star review or a thumbs up from the cheering section populated by friends and family, but by a deep and thoughtful analysis from an individual who is knowledgeable about the genre in which you write. When you write literary fiction, these reviewers are like pearls and their words validate your stubborn conviction to write what you believe in.

I was honored to get one such thoughtful review by Leila Smith from The Kindle Book Review (Top 1000 Reviewer) on Amazon US and UK and at her blog, www.literaryleila.wordpress.com.

If you have read A Deconstructed Heart and agree with her, please like her review on Amazon. If you haven’t read the book… well, what are you waiting for? I know I could not come up with a better argument to persuade you.

Climbing the Amazon rankings…

Denali - Mountain Landscape from Alaska

Denali – Mountain Landscape from Alaska (Photo credit: blmiers2)

My second free promotion for A Deconstructed Heart is wrapping up this evening, with over 600 downloads. It’s an awe-inspiring moment, to realize your hard work is in the hands of six hundred people you have never met, many of whom live thousands of miles away across the globe. What a fantastic time in which to be an author. A Deconstructed Heart is currently at #22 for free literary fiction books for the Kindle and, for some unfathomable reason, #22 also for historical fiction (not a setting I would have chosen for A Deconstructed Heart; for A Change in the Weather and The Dust Beneath Her Feet… well, sure). I’ll keep you updated on the latest when the promotion ends.

Well, that’s a wrap

My first book promotion for A Deconstructed Heart is over. The whole process appeals to the OCD in me; I was constantly hitting refresh on my browser to see those download numbers go up. At the end of the day, over 100 people decided to give my book a try. No big deal for genre writers, who regularly clock up thousands of downloads and sales, but, of course, I am drawn to read and write the most uncommercial section of writing: literary fiction, where, as I have read somewhere, “good books go to die”. I started at 12am yesterday and I’m surprised smoke wasn’t emerging from my laptop when I finally shut it down at 10:30 pm. By day’s end, my ebook was ranked #35 for Amazon’s 100 bestselling free ebooks  in Literary Fiction. It was certainly strange to go from the mouse-in-the-wall life of a writer to the “in your face” bravado of a trumpeting marketing executive, but self-publishing will draw on all your talents (or remind you where you’re lacking). Today is my day off, and then I begin the process again for my short story, A Change in the Weather, which I am promoting on Sunday. When that’s over, I might actually get around to doing that thing I used to like to do… what was it? Oh yes. Writing.