Friday, November 14, 2008

Piss-Poor books

I have this theory about some of the books I read. You know, that trend book you pick up at kroger and breeze through in a few days and then end up donating 2 years later when you realize you'll never read it again. Or even that book that you know has no intrinsic value, but that you still go back to year after year until the cover lies in shreds and you have to get a new copy or use copious amounts of clear tape to hold it together. Beloved by the masses, hated by English professors, these are the books that shoot people to the top ten lists and then dump them back into their original tax brackets a year later. These books, my friends, are like cheap beer.
Cheap beer is the kind of thing you pick up because you're bored, tired, or too poor to buy the nice stuff. You buy it because you don't feel like agonizing over the flavor it will impart to your taste buds and you don't want to spend a lot of time and effort on keeping it at just the right temperature. And it doesn't require that of you. Cheap
beer is exactly what it promises to be on the box - a fast high that won't break your wallet and can leave you miserable the next day. So you buy it and
you drink it all as quickly as possible, not paying attention to
anything but the growing pleasant fuzzy sensation and pushing to the back of your thoughts the mounting queasiness you feel as you continue to drink... until you're finished.
And many novels are the same way, at least if they're being
honest with themselves. They don't want to fundamentally change your
thinking or your lifestyle. They're simply there to do the best they can to give you a
story, a cheap high that you can enjoy 'guilt-free' as it were,
requiring financial but not mental investment. And that's a great
thing - if you ask most people why they read they'll say they do it to
escape and some of the best literature has been written with no
greater prospect than pleasing the masses and making a buck.
So the next time someone tries to feed you bull about how a novel
has no "literary value," ask them to define what their literary values
are. If great literature has to be utterly incomprehensible, impossible to sell, and end tragically or at least with an impending sense of the hopelessness of life, then chances are you're talking to a literary tool. Avoid them, and get back to your copy of Twilight.

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