This blog is basically about how good books are nice and bad books are the pits. And then I get grumpy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Good book, bright side? What are you talking about? Some thoughts...

To resurrect once more the ideas on which this blog was founded, I'd like to open a discussion on the concept of life-affirming books which are thoughtfully and well written, which are entertaining but do not pander to baser senses, as so many popular novels tend to do. I do not mean to rubber stamp any book as a pure example of such by mentioning it in these pages. (And this blog has morphed into a general one about books, although most are relatively benign in the sense that they are not terribly vulgar or obscene.) But, hopefully, there is an element of worthiness in most of what is presented here.

To seek out books that espouse only worthwhile ideas and to write only about them leaves very little to write about, it seems, sadly. First of all there is the question, whose worthwhile ideas? The disposition of this blog is, generally, to define 'worthwhile' as absent of most vulgarity (although that is, today, a tall order) and exuding a leaning towards brighter standards, rather than darker inclinations, something with less lewdness and more style. But I'll pretty much write about anything that is not overtly offensive. To employ the movie ratings system, even an R-rated book can be included if it is thoughtfully and maturely written.

What prompted this post was a discussion on a couple of other sites about religious fiction. And, so this was born more as a lament to the fact that secular fiction seems so bent on swears and gratuitous displays of violence and sexuality; it does not generally point to any better alternatives, but glamorizes the aforementioned elements, instead. Fiction cannot be sanitized in the way a cloth is rid of grime through the use of chlorinated detergent; it cannot be all high roads and no low ones. It needs conflict. But it would be nice if more fiction reflected a feeling that the high road was the worthy one. A lot of fiction doesn't seem able to do that and, frankly, I'd welcome more proof that I'm wrong.

So the point of this yammering on is to clarify and expand this blog's philosophy and to ask, why can't fiction aspire to more?


Nancy said...

it is a big question. i'm sorry to say that i think fiction, especially literary fiction, aspires to *less*. in writing workshops everywhere, the happy ending is seen as cliched, and even a bittersweet "redemptive journey" isn't considered as edgy and interesting as flat out dysfunction and misery with little plotting and an end that doesn't tie up anything (never mind that those things have become cliches now themselves!). it makes me sad, because i think a lot of the reason people read fiction less and less these days is because so much of what is offered and even lauded by critics has stopped being uplifting or even entertaining.

Jemima said...


Thank you for your comment!
I think that if there were more positive works out there, more people would read and be interested in such literature. But we're told we are interested in the fantastic, the vulgar, etc and, so, that's what we read. Just a thought....

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