Thursday, 14 May 2009

A walk on the literary side

A pair of curious lambs encountered on a walk yesterday They posed beautifully so I told them the cheque was in the post.

One of the nice things about a walk in the countryside is that it allows lots of time to talk with a companion. It won't be a surprise to know that one of the topics was writing/reading. How the literary world looks down its nose at popular fiction, where the borderlines are between shallow, superficial writing and the clunkiness of books deemed to be good (ie literary) writing. Should a book enlighten or entertain?

I prefer that a story should entertain me first of all and possible enlighten me as it goes along. But these days I won't read fiction only to be enlightened. Non-fiction will that for me, and do it far better. I've done my english lit at university, I've read since the age of four, tried sci-fi, historical, paranormal, thrillers and these days so many books are riddled with the violence and gore I do not want to open them. Only lately have I discovered the romance genre.

The romance genre is wide and stretches far beyond the Mills & Boon category romances that most people assume makes up the entire genre. I freely admit that in the 1960's I and colleagues made fun of Mills & Boon romances during quiet spells in the library, but the books have changed along with years.
I remember reading widely in my twenties, eager to soak up all the different ways that life could be lived. Things I didn't know until I was twenty-five are now common knowledge to nine-year olds and I think the thing to blame for that loss of innocence is the monster in the corner of every home - the tv. Reading takes an effort of imagination to translate the words into meaningful images in your head, and the muscle needs to be exercised and expanded from an early age. The tv requires only that you watch. Quite often it tells you what you need to understand. But tv and its dangers are another story. Must get on and do some work.

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