Cult Fiction Drinking the Kool-Aid with Kelly Fann

Celebrate the Book | Cult Ficiton | Kelly Fann, Tonganoxie | Nov. 4, 2011

Kelly wrote an article, “Tapping into the Appeal of Cult Fiction.”  A way to bring teen readers into adult literature.

Cult classics – movies would be Full Metal Jacket, Casablanca, Pulp Fiction…so what are the book equivalents?

Not all cult fiction are fiction works…

  • 1984 (Dystopia)
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Non-fiction)
  • Lord of the Flies
  • Catcher in the Rye
  • Do Androids dream of electric sheep
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • 2001: A space odyssey
  • On the Road Again
  • Brave New World
  • Slaughter House Five
  • Dune
  • Snow crash – Sci Fi cult classic
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • American Psycho (Horror or Thriller)
  • Interview with the Vampire (Horror, not as much violence)
  • Neuromancer (Sci Fi)
  • Fight Club (Subculture) (started with the movie…)
  • Trainspotting (Subculture)
  • A Clockwork Orange (Subculture)
  • Belgariad series by David Eddings (Fantasy)
  • Animal Farm
  • Outsiders (breakout for YA literature) – Teens glommed on to adult books

A concept or status, rather than a genre.

The Appeal:  Groundbreaking | Lurid subjects | Travel themes | Explicit and/or controversial at the time of publication and beyond…

Reprinted, new covers, “Cult Call a Rough Guess at Best” by Jane Sullivan =  “Whatever it is, cult fiction makes the heart beat faster…it speaks to you in a way nothing else does, and you’re convinced you’re the only person who gets it.”

Literary Elements: Alienation | Ego-reinforcement | Behavior modification | Vulnerability

Genre Plurality = Genre Exploration Potential

  • Cult titles belong to another genre or subgenre
    • Isaac Asimov for Science Fiction or David Eddings for Fantasy
  • No dedicated section –
    • Don’t use the word cult in a display, though…
  • Must be familiar with titles and respective genres
    • Why not have multiple copies?

Gateway for Teens:

  • Printz Award winning books show the characteristics of cult fiction readers in the making.
    • 5/6 of these trends are always found in cult books:
    • journeys, angst to self-actualization
    • family relationships
    • romance
    • controversy
    • diversity of story characters
  • Serve as a right of passage
    • “Safely explore all that could be done in life.”
  • Will ‘new’ cult classics find there ways into school?  Will Trainspotting be required reading?
Teen Titles:
  • The Bell Jar by Plath
  • Crash by Ballard
  • The Dice Man by Rhinehart
  • Dune by Herbert
  • Fight Club by Palahniuk
  • Douglas Adams – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Geek Love by Dunn
  • Magic for Beginners by Link
  • Neuromancer by Gibson
  • Only Forward by Marshall Smith
  • Perfume by Suskind
  • The Pigman by Zindel
  • The Stranger
  • Trainspotting
Once you know the genre…you know what belongs:
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Smith
  • Catch-22 by Heller
  • Chocolate Wars by Cormier
  • A Child Called “It” – Books that are stolen tend to be cult classics.
  • Book / Movie tie ins…
  • Naked Lunch – film does not equal movie.  Same with A Clockwork Orange
  • True Grit – film v. movie
  • On the Road by Karoak – Rough book, rough movie?
  • In Cold Blood – always in print, movies, discussed
  • Harry Potter – the First of a series usually the Cult classic
  • Protagonist-focussed
  • Judy Blume
  • Go Ask Alice
  • Are you There God? It’s Me Margaret
  • Living Dead Girl – “best book I wish I’d never read” – Sad.  Kidnapped, sex slave, dresses her up as a little girl, she’s willing to find a replacement so she can get out.  2009.
  • 13 Reason’s Why – Suicide, leaves tapes, another that may become a cult classic.  2009?
  • When She Woke – 2011.  Already having people come in a ask for it.  Word of Mouth.
  • Stranger in a Strange Land – Heinlen
  • Left hand of Darkness – Ursula LaGuin.  Androgynous species on a different planet.
  • Religion often plays a part in cult fiction title.  The Shack – Father has religious experience at place of daughter’s murder.
  • Towing Jehova by Marlow
  • Murikomi – In the Miso Soup (ultra-violence) or Almost Transparent Blue
  • Battle Royale – Japanese ultra-violence (lead into this from Hunger Games?)
  • The Giver
  • Hunger Games
  • John Dies at the End – written on the Internet. Horror.  Published AFTER a cult.
  • Hunter S. Thompson – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • Lolita  by Nabokov – Kubric’s Film, too
  • Heroine Diaries
  • Jim Thompson – Grifter, Killer inside me, Population 1280(12AD?)
  • The Ring – Suzuki – The “Stephen King of Japan”
  • Some Stephen King – The Stand or The Dark Tower

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