So last night, instead of doing something constructive, like washing dishes or vacuuming, I was perusing articles on Dear Author. Admittedly, it’s a site I’d never visited before. So. You know, there was the urge to get “caught up.” An article from May 7 caught my eye: “We should let the historical genre die.” You can read the article in its entirety here.
“Yikes.” I said out loud.
“It’s a thunder emergency!” The Toddler responded. And, although he was talking about actual thunder rumbling in the distance, it was a surprisingly accurate response.
So, wait, has everyone else been aware of this but me? Because…I mean, yeah, obviously my knowledge of current events ended when I had my first child in 2010. If it’s not happening on the Disney Channel, it’s not happening in my world. If the zombie apocalypse happened, chances are I wouldn’t know it was happening unless someone posted it on Facebook.
But then I thought about it. And I thought about it some more. I realized that I haven’t gotten my cold, clammy little hands on an interesting historical fiction novel since…okay, since the book that I didn’t buy and promptly regretted it. Twenty minutes later. Before that, though.
I went to my book journal. I nerdily write down the title of every book I read. Why, I don’t know. I think in my mind I’m perpetually enrolled in the Book It! program and am working my way towards the ultimate personal pan pizza. Anyway, the last historical fiction series I got über excited over were the Harrison Raines Civil War mysteries by Michael Kilian. After a quick search (and look, I didn’t really put that much effort into searching, so I could be totally off by this), it looks like the most recent book from the series was published in 2005.
And as a side note, I didn’t read the books that far back. In fact, I only read A Killing at Ball’s Bluff which was published in 2001. Per my nerd journal, I read it all the way back in 2009. Shameful.
I was obsessed–obsessed!–with Devil in the White City, but that’s nonfiction. I read The Other Boylen Girl. I read the Gardella Vampire Series by Colleen Gleason (and I recommend them, so if you haven’t read them, go out and do it). But those are technically paranormal romance. Steampunk is on the rise but again, that’s not technically historical fiction.
Is this why my book keeps getting rejected? Because nobody cares about history anymore? Because, look, I find that hard to believe considering how many people are anticipated to be at Gettysburg next week (I repeat: next week!) There’s got to be more than me and just like, three other guys reading this stuff. I mean, Jeff Shaara released a book in May about the siege of Vicksburg, aptly named, A Chain of Thunder: A Novel of the Siege of Vicksburg. Somebody’s got to be interested in history still, right?
And even if they’re not, is it really fair to let a genre die? In my opinion, a good story is a good story, regardless if it takes place in 1563, 2013, or Star Date: 201343.12. I honestly couldn’t care less about Westerns. Cowboys and gold rushes and cattle put me to sleep. But, if someone slapped a paperback down in front of me and said, “Dude. This is the most amazing novel I’ve ever read in my life,” I’d be willing to give it a shot. I really don’t think the quality or estimated worth of a book should be based on its genre.
Off my soapbox.
While we’re talking about history, just a friendly reminder that July 1st starts the events at Gettysburg, 150 years in the making. If you’re in the area, come on down and say hi to me and the gents of the Baltimore Light Artillery and 1500 of our closest infantry friends. We’ll be the ones in Pitzer’s Woods setting off artillery. And being awesome!
And if you can’t come down, fear not. I’ll be blogging from my phone and uploading random pictures to Facebook. That’s how I roll.