Saturday, 11 December 2010

Do you understand critics?

This time of year depresses me when I read the lists of books recommended by people and realise I haven't read any of them. 

When I was in my twenties, I was like a sponge soaking up 'classic' after 'classic'.  Looking back I think now how bored I was with many of the books I read.  They seemed self indulgent, diffuse and prosy.  At the time I felt good for having read them, like ticking them off an invisible list of things to do. Take Lawrence Durrell - I loved his travel books but couldn't get on with the Alexandria Quartet.

These days I read very little literary fiction.  It's as if I can't be bothered to waste my time and energy on trying to find something, anything of interest.  I was talking to someone this week who had some of the same issues as me about the way he reads.

Perhaps these days I'm more comfortable in admitting the level of book I enjoy.  It's not that I don't enjoy a challenge and coming up to Christmas I'm about to find my annual holiday reading.  I already have a couple of books waiting for me, Teilhard de Chardin and Michael Frayn.  But they aren't fiction.

So the search is on for a novel to challenge my preconceptions about 'literary fiction'.

If you have any suggestions, I'm open to ideas.

But this morning I found a quote that made me feel somewhat better about my lack of enthusiasm about critics and their viewpoints(even though it's more about non-fiction).

'In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.'

George Orwell

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