“Pfft, it’s only mindless escapism,” is a phrase most often heard uttered from the bearded chins of stuffy men in tweed jackets with elbow patches, or perhaps by young men sitting in large chain coffee shops, wearing horn rimmed glasses while they clack away at an old manual type writer, claiming to be “indie” while they grip a Starbucks cup and text their ironic friends on an iPhone.
This is also a phrase that fills me with an overwhelming urge to push someone – someone possibly wearing horn-rimmed glasses – down the nearest set of stairs.
The term “escapism” is often tossed about, in a deeply negative connotation, in reference to most genre fiction. The reference seems to be intended to make anyone who reads genre fiction feel stupid, as it is not high-brow “literary fiction”.
The thing I find so utterly stupid about comments like this is that any story, no matter what genre it’s in, is supposed to draw you in, make you feel the character, cause you to experience their lives. So every story, if it’s any good, is a form of escapism.
Are literary fiction aficionados saying that you cannot get drawn into one of their stories? That sounds to me like an admission their stories suck.
Truth be told, I find most “literary fiction” boring as hell and I’m completely baffled that anyone reads that shit – which is exactly what some people say about my novel, because we all know that men in tweed jackets don’t like stories about Mounties fighting Demons.
One of the best books I’ve read in the last year is “A Place Called Armageddon”, by CC Humphreys, who writes primarily historical fiction. When reading his story the characters were so clear to me, and the scenery so vivid, that I felt as though I stopped reading the story and started seeing it. Is this escapism? Damn right! You wanna know what else it is? A damned fine story, and one hell of a good time.
The wonderful thing about a good story is that there are no borders and no limits. There is no form that a story is required to fit, no dimensions that it cannot exceed, no stupid little box that it has to be crammed in. The storyteller can make his tale into anything he wants, and the reader is free to dive into it and interpret it any way that makes him happy.
I think providing your reader with a bit of escapism while they read your work is something you should aspire to, not be afraid to be judged for.
Now, tell me a story and take me for a good ride, it’s been a shitty week.
Thanks for reading.