Well, it has been a year. Has it not? That’s rather dreadful and certainly no one’s fault but mine. The formatting of this website has changed some, and while I’m getting used to it, it’s still familiar enough to spit out an obligatory return post.
I do not want this solely a renewal piece but to say my emotional energy has allowed me the opportunity to read a few books. The one I’ve finished in the past few days was a compilation of stories by Flannery O’Conner. It’s a light to mid-sized book of 550 pages and took me quite a while to finish for reasons I’ll elaborate below.
I hated it; I felt bad for hating it. I try to accentuate the positive before hating it. I compared it to other authors (e.g. “at least it wasn’t as bad a Joyce”). I’m going to let someone else borrow it to avoid looking at it. Did I mention I feel bad for hating it?
It’s because so many others like it. I’ve had several avid readers recommend her to me. That is always a great sign, along the lines of “50,000 screaming fans can’t be wrong.” Only it’s not that they’re wrong. I’m not a screaming fan. But what of it? What is it to me if I find myself (once again) on the opposite side of a popularity contest? How truthful can I be without letting that heinous cat out of the bag on how I really feel? Where is my diplomacy, and how do I use it to save face?
There’s no real bonzer answer for this, and that makes me even less enthusiastic about facing all of those readers whose doe eyes seem to be more unsettling than Nietzsche’s abyss. It’s the emotional tug-of-war Bugs Bunny had when dealing with Playboy Penguin. This may seem like borrowing trouble, but I’ve run into this before.
Maybe it would be best to explain why. The Southern Gothic genre drives me nuts. The idea of the grotesque in everyday living does not suit my taste in the slightest. Maybe it’s because I run into people like this everyday. I want to strangle them. I want to strangle her characters. The logic fits.
I can remember feeling the same way about A Confederacy of Dunces in which I believe I insulted the honor of a Texan. Terribly explaining how I loathed the main character, Ignatius, this gentle creature (with hackles up) hissed “that’s the whole point!” There’s a problem though. The intent of the story and taste of the reader are two separate topics. I read a book to be entertained in my own way. If an author writes a book that’s intentionally terrible, and I find it terrible, who’s more appropriate?
Great example, “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” is filled with awkward comedy and is designed to be poorly done. That’s its shtick. I recognize that is its shtick. Am I incorrect for disliking its goal? I don’t think so, but this woman didn’t notice.
So I sheepishly set out to find other works of my own choosing, being the best counsel I have in such situations.