Off Topic on Bad Books (Was RE: dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V 1 #70)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Thu Sep 2 01:34:54 EDT 1999


On Wed, 1 Sep 1999 19:46:39 EDT, Tanaquil2 at aol.com wrote:

>  Melissa at Proffitt.com (Melissa Proffitt)
>>thanks to you people...my family will be eating packaged Ramen
>>noodles tonight instead of sweet and sour meatballs with rice.
>
>        <<meekly>>Sorry, Melissa.  Sorry, Melissa's family.  :(

Well...it ended up being grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  Canned
soup.  Processed cheese food product (which ironically makes a MUCH better
sandwich, especially if you use real butter to grill the bread).  You'd
think the way I like to eat, I'd be a gourmet, but apparently I like reading
(and talking about reading) much more.

>Hated it--poorly written (bad)
>Hated it--well written (good)
>Loved it--poorly written (guilty pleasure)
>Loved it--well written (good taste) :)
>
>        Love this, esp #3!  DWJ, naturally, fits under #4.  What remarkably 
>fine taste we all have, to be sure!  ;)

Aber natuerlich.

Actually, I thought about this after I posted it.  (Is it at all obvious
that I post before I think?)  Anyway, the above is based on the presumption
that the "goodness" of a book is based on how well it meets objective
criteria.  But (much as the model appeals to me, and as we've determined I
Am Always Right) who says this is the correct model?  There are works of
literature that are good, even great, by objective standards, but no one
wants to read them.  Is it possible that "good" books are ones that succeed
in appealing to their audience?  That a good book is one that is well liked?

I feel obligated to bring it up--but I don't buy it.  The problem is that
you have to identify the audience the author was writing to, and then
enjoyment would have to be a standard.  Even with DWJ, even on this list of
discriminating, intelligent readers, none of us is in agreement about which
of her books we like best and to what degree.  And yet the one thing we CAN
agree on is that her books are good, as well as enjoyable.

I'm back at that stage where I feel as though I'm living from book to
book--as though everything else is just stuff I have to do to survive and
keep my kids alive and out of the clutches of Child Protective Services.
Well, it's not THAT bad.  It's just something that happens from time to
time...where I read a book, one I get deeply into, and then immediately when
I'm done I look around for something else to read.  Just finished _The Grand
Sophy_ last night--never read it before, but it was EXACTLY what I needed in
the mood I was in.  I'd bet at least the macroplot of that book is in
_Howl's Moving Castle_, as well as Sophie's name.  (I think I just made up a
word there.)

Melissa Proffitt
who will now proceed
to eat
a wilted grilled cheese sandwich
with warmed-over soup
and read
and read
and read some more
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