One of the first things I noticed about John Lennon and the Mercy Street Café was that people were labeling the novel differently respective to genre. I thought the book was a great piece of mainstream fiction, with strong characters, plot, and theme. My friend Sarah said it was a first-rate work of science fiction, while my sister and her friends listed it on their blogs and Facebook pages as fantasy. Were we reading the same book?
I looked up “magical realism" (the author's label) and while many scholars disagreed about the definition and proffered several complex literary definitions, most critics defined the term as a genre in which magical or supernatural elements intrude on realistic settings or are made part of real-life (historical) fiction. The latter, more simplified definition seemed to fit John Lennon and the Mercy Street Café perfectly. John Lennon, a real person, is put into a setting that is historically accurate for the year 2006. The book’s fictional plot takes place within the context of these realistic elements.
The more I reflected, however, the more I began to believe that people’s ability to see the novel as belonging to other genres was a further argument for regarding it as cult fiction. Vonnegut’s fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five, involves a protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, traveling back and forth in time. Vonnegut’s work, originally labeled as science fiction, is now viewed as solid literary fiction. Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, a work of literary fiction, certainly contains an element of the absurd that challenges a reader’s concept of what is normal and real. Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, a classic cult favorite, has been labeled as science fiction, horror, and literary. This, of course, tallies nicely with our definition of cult fiction: that which moves people profoundly, albeit in different ways. Because cult fiction almost always challenges perceptions and is iconoclastic in nature, themes often (though not always) have a subjective element to them.
About This Website
Index of Articles on This Website
What Is Cult Fiction?
Is Cult Fiction the Same as Underground Fiction?
Cult Fiction and Genre
Cult Fiction and ON THE ROAD
Cult Fiction and A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES
Moby-Dick: The Ultimate Cult Novel
John Lennon and the Mercy Street Cafe: Cult Fiction in the Making?
The Next Wave of Cult Fiction
List of Cult Fiction Classics
Cult Fiction Websites
Current Trends in Fiction
Understanding the Literary Marketplace
Emerging Writers in the Literary Marketplace
Resources for Writers
About Cat Spaulding