Literary fiction? …needs more dragons


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I don’t hesitate to say how much I love the dragons in the books. I have a vivid memory of the first time I bought myself a pile of books with my own money; it was the first three books in Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Prince series and yes, there is a dragon on the cover. Even before that fateful day, I had a thing for our often winged mythological friends, and putting one on the cover of a book is a surefire way to get my attention.

I can not help myself. I always felt like St. George was a bit of a dork.

That said, it’s time for dragons to break free from the bonds of fantasy and roam freely across genres as the universe intended. I agree that under the guidelines of the high fantasy genre, anything with dragons is, by nature, high fantasy. But ignore that for now, and let’s imagine for several blissful minutes what it would be like if humanity’s obsession with dragons were to come true through fiction and what it could do to improve, eh good. All.

Let’s start with a genre that’s decidedly not my jam – a statement that probably comes as no surprise to anyone, given the above. Literary fiction is, in my informed opinion, an attempt by some authors to enter The Canon by cataloging people’s potentially fascinating lives in the dullest prose possible. I grew up in the suburbs; I don’t need to know what brand of fancy man cave the neighbor has or what darkness lurks in the hearts of bored housewives and their pool boys.

What I need is more dragons.

Picture this: a cookie-cutter suburban street, all perfectly green lawns and perfectly manicured gardens. If there’s a car in a driveway, it’s a “sport SUV”, whatever that means. The only thing that can be heard is the occasional groan of desperation from a harassed mother of three trying to get two kids to their sports on time while wrestling a clingy toddler in their car seat.

Suddenly the sky darkened. A whoooosh of wings vibrates the tops of poplars tastefully planted between the houses. The mother’s Starbucks cup crashes on the sidewalk. “Everyone inside. I know you have rugby and I don’t care. On the inside. NOW.” The family rushes inside just as an explosion of white-hot fire envelops the corner house – thankfully empty since the Joneses left for their lake house earlier this year. Flames blazes make the rose bushes outside Mrs. Robinson’s house creak before the firefighters arrive, and our protagonist can’t help but smile a little despite the chaos; this woman has always been a little too proud of her floribundas .

This time his house was spared. Her secret affair with Mr. Jones has increased in the crackling flames still emanating from the shell of the once minimalist living room of her home, and she breathes a sigh of relief that she won’t have to find a reason. The Joneses are not coming back. Nobody ever does that once their house has been burnt down. She peels her children from her own living room window – a mirror image of her own – and brings them back to her black Lexus RX. Her toddler is somehow clingier than before; How is it possible? With a final sigh, she picks up her insulated cup from the asphalt of her driveway. The outside is uncomfortably warm, but when she raises the cup to her lips, the ice cubes inside clink pleasantly. Sending a prayer to whoever gave an inventor the idea for suction cups, she pulls out of her driveway and points her hybrid SUV towards the rugby pitch in a chorus of “do we still have to listen to Frozen??” older children and a chant of “Elsa!” Elsa! Elsa!” of the toddler.

The sodden wreckage of the Jones’ house disappears as she turns left onto Columbia Avenue. High above – so high it seems almost like a bird instead of a 20ft flying death machine – the dragon soars to the distant mountains, its first mission perfectly executed.



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