From Daniel Handler’s review of Patrick deWitt’s latest novel, Undermajordomo Minor, which I am currently reading and enjoying:
It is said, for instance, that Margaret Atwood does a take on science fiction and therefore is a literary writer instead of a science fiction writer, and then we wonder why there are so few science fiction writers who write as well as Margaret Atwood, while the science fiction writers glare at us and order another round. This is bad. “The Handmaid’s Tale” is science fiction and should not be disqualified as such on the grounds that it has good sentences and makes you think, as does the work of Patrick deWitt. Therefore, “Undermajordomo Minor” is a terrific piece of genre writing, and that’s that.
I’m a little irritated—perhaps unjustly so—at the suggestion that science fiction (and other genres) can never contain “good sentences” or “[make] you think”. I just can’t quite decide if Handler shares my irritation; I’d like to think that he does. In either case, I’d point those that may hold that opinion at works like Michael Swanwick’s Stations of the Tide or Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun, to name two examples.
PS: If you haven’t read anything by deWitt, I highly recommend The Sisters Brothers and (even though I’m not yet done reading it) Undermajordomo Minor.