Ever since the rise of the novel in the 18th century, mimetic realism has been the unmarked state for fiction in English (of fiction in other languages, I lack the authority to speak.) Everything else is genre — science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, moribund genres like the western and nearly extinct ones like the nurse novel — and yes, literary fiction. The fact that literary fiction occupies a position of high prestige doesn’t exempt it from having its own tropes and clichés and habits of thought, and doesn’t exempt it from Sturgeon’s Law.†
But it’s not often you encounter a writer of literary fiction actually admitting to the fact in public, as J. Robert Lennon does in the March 29th issue of Salon.
†Named after the science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon, to whom someone once said, “Ninety percent of science fiction is crud.” To which Sturgeon replied, “Ninety percent of everything is crud.”