Comments: 5
Murder by Death 1 year ago
I've always suspected - in the most ignorant way, to be fair, because I try hard not to read 'important' books - that authors like Gaiman et al are never considered because they write stories people enjoy. Have you ever noticed the societal mindset that if you enjoy something, it must not be good for you? (Sex, food) Or if you have fun doing what you do it must not be a real job? Even on a personal level, we tend to consider the 'life of the party' to be, if not an outright bubble-head or dimwit, not intellectually driven. We de-value what isn't difficult, painful, or dysfunctional, and view anything enjoyable as mindless reward. So if you enjoy a book, it must not have any intellectual value to it, but if the book is dense, painful, gut wrenching, and displays the worst of humanity, it must be "important".

I say 'we' but of course not everyone is like that - probably not even the majority, but society as a whole is. And of course, not every award wining book is a gut wrenching saga of pain, exclusion and emotional dysfunction. But I do think the very best genre writers are excluded from the recognition they deserve in their time because they don't pander to the stereotype; their primary directive is really good story telling. And good story telling just naturally explores those themes that literary authors work so hard at writing around.
"So it goes." 1 year ago
I do think you're right. I actually doubt many of the people who create those "important books" lists and award prizes have even bothered to read this or, for instance, American Gods - which I consider another amazingly inventive book that almost started its own genre (and let's not even go down the road of the Sandman comics...) I do notice that we seem to think if people are "happy" they must be less intelligent than those of us who are filled with angst at the state of affairs in the world. I've noticed this forever, and when I was about 20 or so, someone told me I was "brilliant" and I replied, "no, I'm clinically depressed." That was actually the truth - I'd been dribbling on about existential problems (is life worth it, what is real, etc) -- all a symptom of my depression, and a family friend told me it was b/c I was smart. I still shake my head at that b/c I was basically suicidal, and I can't imagine I was actually making a ton of sense.

We tend to dismiss the good, happy, even the easy in life just because it is easy or good or happy. That stance is really stupid, once you think about it. I mean, being miserable is not something anyone should strive toward. I'm more than happy to work hard at a novel (cf my love of David Foster Wallace) but there needs to be a reward or payoff at the end. I'm not going to work hard at a book that just is work for work's sake. I want to get something out of it, be it enjoyment (most commonly that's it) or some insight or knowledge that I consider worth the time/energy I put in. It's hard to explain, but I do think dismissing these authors or anything just because the masses tend to like it is really very silly and snobby to a degree I can't really imagine. I'm a bit snotty about some things (I prefer my books not to have stickers on them, so Oprah's book club and I have a problem) but when Franzen made a big deal about her book club being for "easy reads" after she chose him, I got personally offended. The Jeffrey Eugenides won the Pulitzer w/ a book he'd HAPPILY shared w/ Oprah's club, and I considered it the equivalent of a bitch-slap to Franzen -- one he totally deserved. Anyway, clearly I watch the literary scene far too carefully for my own good.

Bottom line, I believe you're correct.
Murder by Death 1 year ago
You've actually just pointed out my own tiny hypocrisy, because you're right - I am immediately turned off by the 'sticker' books too. So I avoid the books of the intelligentsia and I avoid the (according to Franzen) easy reads. Makes me wonder what exactly I am reading, lol. But like you, I'm offended by anyone's (especially Franzen, who has struck me as an arrogant git from the first) judgement of anyone else's reading choices. I don't care for Oprah's choice of titles, but I think she's a heroine for making reading something cool to do again.
Mike Finn 1 year ago
I liked this review. I’ve had his “Perado Street Station” In my TBR pile for so long I should be charging it rent.

I love that he sets out to provoke thought rather than dictate answers.
"So it goes." 1 year ago
I agree. He's also incredibly prolific - putting out so many books consistently. I've got a couple more to read, including Perado Street Station, myself.