Monday, March 07, 2016
What We Look for in a Novel.
This is from a longer piece by Hanya Yanagihara (A LITTLE LIFE) in THE GUARDIAN. Her editor felt there were too many upsetting incidents in her novel. This is why (and also due to the length) I have put off reading A LITTLE LIFE despite its great reviews. Am I a coward? A lazy reader? Do I prefer books that don't "upset" me.
I think the most enduring books (like Bill's mention of SILAS MARNER and George's reading of it) will always have this element to some degree They will always make us uneasy.
Certainly we don't want every book we read to upset us, but if there is not some aspect of this in some or most of what we read, can our experience in reading the book have any real value? Can it be a lasting experience? I think many books classified as crime fiction do a better job of this than so-called literary fiction. They show rather than tell us about a social issue. Witness Winslow's THE CARTEL, Richard Price's work, the not very nice people in Patricia Highsmith. Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Laura Lippman, Sara Paretsky, Tana French, Tony Hillerman, Craig Johnson, Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell. These writers are able to entertain and inform in equal measure.They create flawed complex characters facing real life issues.
And at least some of the time this is what I want to read.
Thoughts?What was the last upsetting book you read?