Crap books and good books (was Re: Best Books of 2004)

Kyra Jucovy klj at
Wed Jan 19 15:31:25 EST 2005

On Wed, 19 Jan 2005, Robyn Starkey wrote:

> I have to take issue with this, being someone who might easily be
> characterised as a Literary Snob. I think that you have to take into
> account differences in taste. I actually really love a lot of books that
> other people (even, gasp, Melissa) describe as boring or unreadable. I
> don't just endure them, I enjoy reading them. I don't love everything
> that is supposedly good literature - I hate Dickens, for example, but I
> also really Wuthering Heights, and Robertson Davies, not to mention a
> lot of modernist and postmodern fiction that other people find
> disturbingly arcane, or dull or whatever.
> Robyn

I agree.  After struggling through reviewing the 18th century, I certainly
don't think I like the entire canon.  But, I do really like a lot of
it, as well as a lot of things which get classified as serious (read:
dull) art.  Just to pick on _Dogville_ because A) it is recent and B) it
is my Favorite Movie Ever TM, I was rather annoyed when, after seeing it
and falling passionately in love with it and enjoying it on a very
visceral level, I read plenty of reviews basically saying, "This is a very
Deep and Profound movie but not at all enjoyable."  Is it Deep and
Profound?  Sure (although some people have also argued that it's shallow).
But, possibly even because it's Deep and Profound and very stylized, I
really, really liked it, in exactly the same way I liked, say, _Archer's
Goon_.  I think that kind of thing is fun and neat.

Doesn't mean I think something needs to be like that to be fun and neat,
of course - there's more than one way of being fun and neat.  But I read
_Absalom Absalom!_ for the first time in less than a day because I simply
found myself unable to put it down, it was that good, and while I found
_Sartor Resartus_ rather harder-going, I wondered if I was going insane
when the section leader in the class I was discussing it in said that it
was a given that nobody could possibly like it at all without reading lots
of critical material explaining the whole thing.  Aspects of it were
annoying as hell, but I still kind of liked it.  Just because something is
formally complicated, I guess I mean to say, doesn't mean that it's
unenjoyable, anymore than things are unworthy of one's intellect just
because they're formally simple.


Prometheus: "Grief for awhile is blind and so was mine. / I wish no living
thing to suffer pain."
			---Percy Bysshe Shelley, _Prometheus Unbound_

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