I am slowly writing, which means I am spending a great deal of time reading (around my research). At any rate, I've come across another interesting discussion of "popular fiction," which I thought might be worth sharing here. In "Myra Breckinridge and Imitative Form," Purvis E. Boyette writes:
I had first thought to entitle this essay "Myra Breckinridge Is Queer; or the Omission of an Article," so that my title would make two points: that the novel is not about a homosexual and that we have to watch carefully Gore Vidal's facetious use of language. In other words, I intend to take Myra Breckinridge seriously as a work of fiction and, in its kind, as a serious work of art. In academic circles, one is inclined to regard "coast-to-coast bestsellers" with scarcely disguised contempt, and my first impulse is to applaud newspaper critics like Josh Greenfield who dismiss popular novels with "serious criticism need not apply." But if Myra Breckinridge is to be salvaged from the pornographer's bin, we shall have to look at the work rather more seriously than the thousands who have read the book for prurient reasons alone. (229)As I read this, I am reminded of Pamela Regis's important work on what critics owe the popular romance, and how we should study popular romance. I wonder if it is our role, as scholars and critics, to "salvage from the pornographer's bin" a work of fiction. I'm not entirely certain that I am interested in "saving" texts, after all, as Regis writes, "the most modest work of fiction, including romance fiction, is a greater accomplishment than the finest work of literary criticism."
Boyette, Purvis E. "Myra Breckinridge and Imitative Form." Modern Fiction Studies 17.2 (1971): 229-38.
Regis, Pamela. "Ten Years after A Natural History of the Romance Novel: Thinking Back, Looking Forward." Journal of Popular Romance Studies 3.2 (2013): http://jprstudies.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/JPRS3.2_Regis_ThinkingBack.pdf