Hello, I am G.M. Baker. I am a novelist and a reader. As a reader, I have a hard time finding contemporary books that are to my taste. As a novelist, I try to fill that gap — for myself and for others.
What kind of books do I like? I enjoy a good romp as much as the next person, but mainly what I am looking for is what I would call serious popular fiction.
And no, that is not a contradiction in terms. Today the literary landscape seem split between genre fiction, which seldom tries to be serious, and literary fiction, which pretends to be serious (usually without success) and looks down its nose at the attempt to be popular. Serious popular fiction is the missing middle.
It was not always so. Much of what we regard as classic literature today was popular literature in its time. A good deal of it is still popular fiction today. Think Jane Austen or Mark Twain, or Charles Dickens. Yes, there are also examples of deliberately effete classics as well. Think James Joyce or T. S. Eliot. But not every classic that is difficult today was difficult in its own day. Shakespeare played to the pit as much as to the gallery, and the Globe Theatre needed to sell tickets to feed its actors and playwrights.
Serious fiction does not necessarily mean great or classic literature. It does not even have to mean good literature. It is much more a matter of intent. I am trying, in my novels, to be serious and to be popular. By this I mean popular in form. Whether I succeed in being popular in sales figures is another question. This newsletter will document my journey.
But that is not all the newsletter is about. The name of the newsletter, Stories All the Way Down, expresses my conviction about the essential function of stories at every level of our lives and of our discourse. Serious popular fiction is important because stories are important in every aspect of our lives. Serious popular fiction makes us more sophisticated consumers of stories, and the importance of that goes far beyond our literary amusements. So this newsletter will also look at the ways stories shape our lives.
I will also be publishing a series of travel posts here. They may at first seem disconnected from the main theme, but they are not. Travel is a form of story making. Or perhaps it is that story making is a form of travel. Or maybe both, together and interactively. I will attempt to draw these connections in the travel pieces. But if they don’t interest you, they will be in their own section and you can opt out of receiving them.
I am currently serializing my historical novel, The Wistful and the Good in this newsletter. I’m not sure yet if I will do the same with its sequels. The Wistful and the Good is a serious popular novel. Or, at least, it attempts to be. You be the judge. You can buy the full novel any of these places: https://books2read.com/u/mqEKEe.
Finally, I am Roman Catholic and I see the world through that lens. Don’t expect anything confessional or devotional here, but part of writing serious literature involves having a serious anthropology. One cannot reflect seriously on the human experience without having a serious idea about what it means to be human. My anthropology is Catholic, though it is an anthropology that is widely shared, to one degree or another, by people of many traditions. It is the anthropology implicit in most of the art of the West, and probably other points of the compass as well. Don’t expect specifically Catholic refences to predominate here, but don’t be surprised if they show up occasionally.
If you are interested in serious popular fiction, please subscribe.
And if you know anyone else who might be interested, please share it with them.