Gateway Reading

The "read anything as long as you're reading" philosophy, explored:

 

Tim Parks says he doubts people move on from reading "trash" to reading "real literature" in his NYRB article Reading Upward .

 

Emily Temple over at Flavorwire respectfully disagrees in It's Okay to Read Harry Potter, mostly because the divide is spurious to begin with.

 

First off, I take offense with Parks assertion that it is some sort of positive ascendency that takes you from Hermione Granger to Clarissa Dalloway. Despite your feelings for magic vs. Modernism, Ms. Granger is just fine on her own, thank-you-very-much.  Besides, Modernism definitely isn't for everyone, even those who read "literary" works. Bad, bad, bad. And the comparison of junk food vs. a gourmet meal is also problematic, since not all people who enjoy M&Ms get hopelessly addicted, just like not every person who likes a fancy meal from time to time will dedicate their lives to some sort of gourmand gluttony. Some will, in both cases, but to say it is the same for everyone is condescending. The fact that people are still able to draw a line in the sand between genre and literary these days shows a profound lack of diversity in their own reading lives. Those very ill-defined categories cross over and into each other more than people like Parks seem to believe, and this whole low-middle-highbrow thing is just fodder for argument and not a legitimate way to discuss culture in any meaningful way. In other words, I'm on board with Temple's refutation.

 

 

What do you think?