I just read a forum discussion on Crimespace regarding recent books people have read, and with the execption of one person mentioning Cormac McCarthy's The Road all of the books were in the mystery genre. Now there are some readers on Crimespace, but the majority of people there are writers. Isn't it a bit harmful to read nothing but crime fiction if you are also writing it yourself? Shouldn't writers branch out to every genre, including literary? There was no mention of writers like Hemingway, or Jennifer Weiner or Octavia Butler. Admittedly the majority of the books I read are crime, but I try to read outside of the genre. I feel like a freak because I listed Fitzgerald, Bowles and Bukowski.
Crime fiction writers continually bitch about the lack of respect literary folk give our genre, stating that if they read the best of what mystery has to offer, their opinions would change. But too often those in popular fiction genres snub literary fiction just as much (even snubbing other popular fiction genres as well). If the genres were ever to fix the divide, then it should start with us, not only as a tool to understanding literary fiction, but to aid our own writing too.