Mystery or Crime Fiction? Less Filling.

Both Patti Abbott and Spinetingler editor Brian Lindemuth (at Do Some Damage) have asked whether you prefer Mysteries or Crime Fiction, both as a reader, and a writer, when it comes to labeling books.
It used to be that Crime Fiction was a subset to Mystery, and now the tables seem to be turning somewhat. Here is my long comment at DSD.

Almost every story has an element of mystery. What happens next? Parker is on a bridge and he tells a guy off. I like this guy. What’s he gonna do next? But that’s not a story of deduction. Is Tana French’s excellent Faithful Place allowed to be crime fiction? There’s a murder and we don’t know who did it. But her depiction of Dublin and her excellent characters are right out of Hammett or Chandler.

I like both mysteries and crime fiction. I consider Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr “Burglar” mysteries to be cozies. I can never keep up with the classifications that nerds keep narrowing down, whether it’s in music (no dude, that’s not shoegaze, it’s um, darkwave fartsniff dubstep!) or books or whatever. I can’t be bothered.

Let’s face it, Mystery and Crime Fiction are labels to sell a book. If it bothers you to see “Mystery” on a book you like, is it because you imagine Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher and don’t want to be associated with fans of those stories?
Mystery lovers likely get the same shiver when they see Crime Fiction or Noir on a label, they know there may be foul language and testicles (probably severed ones).
It’s a marketing construct. I don’t like either label. “Crime Fiction” can certainly drive away readers who assume it’s all about serial killers and gumshoes wearing fedoras and talking like Bogart, just like “Mystery” may be dismissed as a puzzler to keep you occupied in the waiting room for the gastroenterologist.

What about “Suspense”? I hope your story has suspense, even if it’s “literary fiction.” But heavens forfend it be labeled a “thriller,” those are for reading on airplanes, right? Speaking of thrills, I’m thrilled when an author I like is in the good old Fiction section. Megan Abbott, Pete Dexter, Scott Phillips are all recent sightings. But I don’t mind wandering to the Mystery corner, like the “Adult” section of the video store (if you remember those) to get my kicks.

Like Colson Whitehead says about those who call genre fiction a guilty pleasure:

“Other people’s labels. Other people’s hang-ups.”

That’s a Lulu – Grift #1

I neglected to share the purchase link for GRIFT #1, John Kenyon’s new quarterly which includes my short story “Six Feet Under God.”

Here’s where you get Grift #1
It’s now 15% off. Grab it and a couple copies of Needle Magazine, and the Off the Record Anthology by Luca Veste, which contains my story “Freedom Bird” that broke some hearts and made grown men cry.

It has stories and articles by Lawrence Block, Ken Bruen, Ray Banks, Scott Phillips, Matthew C. Funk, Chris F. Holm, Keith Rawson, Court Merrigan, Alec Cizak, Todd Robinson, Craig McDonald, Jack Bates, and a little plucky plucker named Thomas Pluck.

© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

Grift Magazine – Six Feet Under God

“God is dead, and no one’s doing anything about it. Except me.”
-Kelsey Flinthoof, private dick, in “Six Feet Under God”

That’s from my story in the inaugural issue of GRIFT MAGAZINE by John Kenyon, now available from Lulu Press.
Grift Magazine #1

Not only do you get my postmodern meta-hardboiled tale that begins on Easter Sunday and ends with philosophers, scientists prophets and theologians giving up answers beneath the barrage of Kelsey’s two fists and the blast of his 45.

Buy Grift #1 and you’ll also get fiction from Ken Bruen, Matthew Funk, Keith Rawson, Todd Robinson and Alec Cizak; articles by Lawrence Block, Ray Banks, Scott Phillips, Chris Rhatigan, Julie Morrigan and an interview with Chris Offutt by editor John Kenyon.

It’s a hell of a start to a quarterly, and I’m proud to be in it.

© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page