What Makes a Novel Mainstream?

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To me, a mainstream novel is a book that can't easily be pidgeon-holed. It doesn't easily fit into any of the so-called genre categories, even though it may contain elements of one or more category. I think a book can be considered mainstream if it has a more embitious subject matter, and character development, and theme, as Dean Koontz maintains.

Let's consider some books. What category or genre they would fit in?

"Grapes of Wrath," by John Steinbeck
"Gone with the wind," by Margaret Mitchell
"Moby Dick," by Herman Melvill
"Call of the Wild," by Jack London
"To Kill a Mocking Bird," by Harper Lee

Each of these contain elements of one genre or another, suspense, mystery, adventure, action, romance, whatever. However, I don't think you can comfortably categorize any of them. They transend genre.

That, to me, is what makes a novel mainstream, and what makes it great.

About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Monday, June 19, 2006

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