Midcult

I read the (relatively) recent novel, The Golem and the Djinni while I was in Thailand.

It’s got fantasy elements – I mean, c’mon, it’s got a golem and a djinni (and also an embittered, somewhat inept, yet also villainous, reincarnating wizard; but that’s neither here nor there) – but it’s not really intended to be a fantasy novel. Or it is, but like Atwood, it writes genre fiction that is, or is intended to be ‘literary’ fiction.

Ok, but that does that even mean (though I do love Atwood)?

I liked the book, but what did I take from it? Not much.

After thinking about it, I have a revelation. I suddenly understood Dwight MacDonald’s concept of ‘midcult.’ It’s not great fiction. It doesn’t come close. It’s intended to make us feel good for not reading trash and reading something that maybe we can pretend is great, but which is really just middlebrow ‘meh.’

Also, for a moment, I kept getting him confused with McLuhan and I remembered that scene from Annie Hall which has to be my favorite scene from a movie not involving Harrison Ford or Godzilla.

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