Thursday’s Thoughts: What Constitutes a Fantasy?

Had an interesting email conversation yesterday with a writer friend. The name of author Larry Woiwode came up, and she sent me a link to a blog interview she did with him in 2006.

It’s an interesting interview. At first, this statement of his confused me: There seems a mistaken conception that the primary genre of Christian fiction is fantasy. Who, exactly, has this alleged misconception? Most people would tell you the overwhelming majority of Christian fiction titles aren’t fantasy, but romance.

But then I read further. It appears he considers that romance is fantasy. Hmmm…

I see his point. Romances are unrealistic. They don’t portray an accurate view of the real world, but pander to the emotion and imagination. All in all, they’re pretty fantastical.

He also appears to lump the classic murder mystery/detective story in the same “fantasy” category. Interesting!

But let’s go back to the first statement and say romance novels are fantasy. If that isn’t what makes up the majority of Christian fiction, what does?

It appears he gives the name Christian fiction to a different sort of novel from what’s shelved under that label in the bookstores: “…the tradition has been almost wholly realistic, from Chaucer to Dostoyevsky to Flannery O’Connor, serving as application of the gospel.”

He has a different way of looking at things. And I think I like it.

I’ve recently ordered one of Mr. Woiwode’s books (a short story collection, Silent Passengers) and will move it to the top of my to-be-read list as soon as it arrives. I’m really curious about this guy.

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4 thoughts on “Thursday’s Thoughts: What Constitutes a Fantasy?

  1. Thanks for the link to my interview with Woiwode, which I posted on my blog some time ago. It was part of a series of interviews I conducted with Christians in the fine arts, including writers, poets, musicians, and painters.
    I learned a lot from these fascinating dialogues, but the one comment that most sticks in my mind is Woiwode’s advice regarding how Christians can help support Christian writers: “Buy their books!”

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