While I might not be rewriting or re-editing Out in the Garage these days, I am still attempting to hone my publishing and marketing of it, seeing what is working and what isn't, and one area where I struggle still is fitting it into a genre. I started out very generally describing it as literary fiction, but that isn't really working, so, after thinking long and hard about it, I have gotten a bit more specific.
The first edition I am going with coming of age and satire as the genres, since, because of the structure and the additional parts, is more general than the second edition. Even though the genres are still pretty general, they are a better fit than literary fiction or general fiction. Coming of Age works for the genre because it is, on the surface, about a teenager dealing with changes in his life and transitioning into adulthood. Satire is also an accurate description, since, as Wikipedia describes, "vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement." While this was more obvious in the original Escapes version, it is still pretty evident if you read through the layers and don't just taking it at face value. At least I think it is pretty evident, anyways.
The second edition, like the first edition, is still labelled a satire, for the same sort of reasons, but because of the focus, and the structure, the other genre that best describes it is young adult/juvenile fiction -- visionary and metaphysical. Since much of the story is the mental journey of a young adult character through his life, which comes across as a sort of dream-like, altered state of reality, and is written in a way that might appeal more to an adult audience that reads young adult fiction, it made sense for me to label it in this way.
No matter what genre is the most appropriate, both versions are heavily allegorical and can be read as extended metaphors, and, unless I am mistaken, this is not something that many writers are doing nowadays. It is not necessarily uncommon, but it isn't exactly what the academy is teaching, either. I suppose that it would make sense that I would write in such a way, since I am most familiar with literature from the 19th and before, when it was more commonplace. Herman Melville, as many of you are probably aware, is one of my bigger influences, and it would be very difficult to read Moby Dick and make much sense out of it without reading it as being an extended metaphor, and the same goes for much of his other work. I mean, try making sense out of The Confidence Man without reading it allegorically.
While perhaps it is an outmoded way to write, it is what came naturally to me when I was writing it, and writing allegorically, for me, was a good way to make social and cultural criticism and also tell a story that makes sense on a surface level. While I do want my readers to read (either version) allegorically, and I hope that they do, it is not necessarily necessary, either.
In the end, classifying it as one genre or another doesn't really change the novel itself, but readers' expectations on what they are getting, and how they know they are supposed to read what they are purchasing. I am hoping, by seeking out the most specific genre where it fits, I will be able to find the right set of readers, who will read it as it is intended to be read.
While I can't control exactly how people read it, finding the right genre does help lead the reader in the right direction, and that's all I really can do. I just need to do it more effectively.