Call me a snob if you want, but I consider a good writer to be someone who understands that a subject needs a predicate, and then proceeds to take those subjects and predicates to weave a colorful and engaging dialogue with their reader.
It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare or any of those other Dead White Men we loathe to love. I’ve been known to indulge in “chick lit” and genre books on occasion. However, they were all great storytellers with a decent grasp of the English language and knew how to properly manipulate it in order to write a good story.
Enter your cousins and their “hood” novels.
First, I will go on record as stating the obvious: I don’t like urban fiction. In my opinion, those books pander to their audience and perpetuate a belief that one can just put any old bullshit on paper and call it literature. "As long as people are reading SOMETHING..." is not a good enough reason for me to be okay with these books, because it matters what they are reading. It matters a lot. That said...
Recently, the description to one of these Street Lit books was brought to my attention. It read:
Book #5 will not be a novel but 40 short chapters of grown woman shit about love, life, relationships, friendships, infidelity, stupid shit we do, shouldn't do, and why. NO PhD, NO statistics, NO round table, NO degrees. Just a Brooklyn chick w/a lot to say.
REALLY?? This is your book jacket copy???
When I was a kid, it was "cool" to be dumb; kids who did their work and earned good grades were teased. How can it be that DECADES later, grown-ass folks are still living with that mentality? Am I supposed to be impressed by this author’s lack of credentials? Does this make her tome more authentic? It saddens me that this is supposed to be a selling point. I can almost picture an unsuspecting young lady picking up this book and thinking, “Finally, someone’s about to keep it REAL!”
There’s nothing wrong with tales of urban dynamics and struggles, and certainly I can appreciate a fun, airy look at myself and the people around me. I mean, who doesn’t love an easy beach read to pass away a leisurely afternoon? But there’s a fine line between infecting the population with ignorance and enlightening them with a good read. And street lit is teetering on the wrong side of it.
*smooches...hoping this motivates me to get writing again*
I mean, there's no way I'm allowing THIS heffa to outsell me!!