Sometimes I think commercial fiction gets a bad reputation. People don't think it's as "deep" as literary fiction, or that the stuff that happens in it isn't like real life (I mean, true, how many of us have Hagrid coming to our doors saying "You're a wizard, Harry!"), or that there are too many happy endings, or that it's just frivolous.
To them I say, no way! Yes, part of commercial fiction is entertainment, hence the word "commercial"--but I have learned so much about life from all kinds of commercial fiction. I learn about teenagers from YA, I learn about love from romance novels and women's literature, I get to visit other time periods in historical fiction, I learn about heroism and loyalty and fear in fantasy, I learn about new technologies and applications for modern science in science fiction, and I get a unique look into someone else's life through popular memoirs. And I get to take amazing journeys in my head with people that are so real, I swear they'll walk through my door at any moment. Some of the best writing I've encountered has been in commercial fiction books, too.
And, lest we forget, many of our favorite authors from history were popular while they were writing, which would make them, at least by some definition, commercial.
I'm not dissing literary fiction at all. Literary fiction is an insightful place, a place you go to really think about things, to examine the human condition, and to find some really freaking good writing. I don't need to tell you it's good--we all know it's good. I'm just saying, hey, let's not be too hard on commercial fiction and whether or not it has artistic merit. It gives us so many things--and there is nothing wrong with being entertained, or reading to escape life for a while. And let's not forget Lord of the Rings, which manages to be commercial and literary at the same time!
So here's to you, commercial fiction! I've never once doubted your greatness, and I look forward to a long, happy relationship.