I hear this a lot: “I didn’t like [insert book] because it glorified [insert topic: extramarital sex, violence, drugs, etc].”
We all have different levels of comfort. That’s something we’ve talked about before. What happens, though, when we project our own discomfort about a certain topic onto the book we’re reading? So, when we read a novel that deals with a serious subject, we suddenly label said novel as “glorifying” that subject.
What does that even mean? And where’s the line? How does an author talk about a difficult topic, even in a graphic way, without being perceived as glorifying that subject?
I’m still not really sure what it means to “glorify” a topic, like violence. But, for what it’s worth, I would put movies more into the “glorifying” camp than literature. Some movies feel like they are violent just for the sake of being violent–and I guess that’s part of what people mean when they talk about this idea of glorifying. The rampant violence, in some cases, does nothing to advance the plot. It’s just kind of there–in order to get in the requisite number of decapitations and camera shots of splattering brains.
Hooray for Valentines Day!
Today is a wonderful opportunity to gorge oneself on overpriced chocolate and questionable fettucine alfredo, while dining with the one you love.
Or, if you’re tired of hearing everyone yapping about love and such, then perhaps you’d like to relish in the dark, miserable side of romance.
Like these terrible couples from literature, for example. So if you hate Valentines Day, then today’s post is for you.
Here are some of the worst couples in literature–at least that I could think of.
Literature, like any form of art, is interpreted subjectively. That’s what makes it so fun to talk about, and that’s why blogs like this are a pleasure to write.
The problem comes, at least for this blogger, when you say you dislike a novel that everyone else likes. How dare you cross the literary gods and goddesses and express your unfavorable opinion of a classic novel? For shame.
When a novel first comes out, though, early reviewers don’t have that luxury—or that obstacle, depending on how you see it. If you’re the first reviewer of a book, you have zero bias and zero preconceived notions about it.
No one has told you whether it was amazing or whether it sucks. So, more than likely, you’re just honest. But if your honesty results in you writing the only critical review of a novel that is widely adored, well, then your review will stick out like a sore thumb.
Like these examples of early reviews of classic novels that Flavor Wire recently provided:
Lolita, at its core, is about the sexual abuse of a child. That’s why, for me, it was such a difficult book to read.
Complicating matters is the novel’s cover, which usually has some type of suggestive image of a young girl. Not exactly material you want to carry around in public.
And the covers also seemed to miss the mark on the book’s theme–which was more about a creepy old pervert than a suggestive young girl. Many recent covers of the novels seemed to take their inspiration more from Stanley Kubrick’s outlandish film, rather than Nabokov’s book.
So recently, I stumbled across this as-yet-unreleased book called Recovering Lolita, which gave 60 world-class designers the opportunity to redesign the cover of this classic novel. And let’s be honest: This book’s cover desperately needs new eyes and a fresh look.
This is fascinating. A guy named Brian Davis uses law enforcement composite sketch software to create images of what fictional characters from famous novels might look like.
Users submit characters, with relevant passages that describe those characters, and he creates a composite drawing. And to be honest, it’s eery how closely they resemble the images I have in my head.
Below are some characters from novels relevant to this blog, with passages describing them below each picture.
“It’s Not You. It’s Me.”
Have you ever felt that way about a book?
You know, the old clichéd way that the girl always breaks up with the boy, like George got the news broken to him in that one episode of Seinfeld. A short monologue is accompanied by a kiss on the cheek, and off she goes into the sunset.
When it comes to reading, though, have you ever felt like that? You appreciate the book. You think you understand why other people like it. But it’s just not for you.
If so, where do you draw the line? How can you tell if something is genuinely a piece of crap, and the people who like it must be border-line illiterate, or whether it’s just not your proverbial cup of tea?
After reading 33 books in 16 months, it finally happened: I don’t know what to say.
What I mean is that I have so much to say that I don’t know how to say anything. I’m speechless…well, except for the fact that this is probably my longest review.
You see, I don’t know how to review this book. I’m baffled.
Thinking about heading to Iran anytime soon, maybe for a spring road trip?
Just a guess…but it’s probably not a good idea carrying around the Lolita book in public while you’re over there.
I joke around a lot about being embarrassed about carrying certain books in public, but the thing I love about the United States is that I have that freedom. If I want to read a book about a 15-year-old girl going through puberty, then I have the freedom to do that.
Creepy? Yes. Illegal? No.
But life is different in Iran.
By now, it’s obvious that I’m highly uncomfortable reading Lolita.
That said, the book is beautifully written–and as I mentioned yesterday, it’s disturbing how effortlessly Nabokov seems to get inside the head of a pedophile.
My discomfort with this novel also raises a point we’ve discussed before: When a book brings a lot of negative emotions out of you–anger, depression, disdain–doesn’t that simply mean the author has written an amazing novel? If I really dislike this protagonist, Humbert, doesn’t that simply mean the author did his job of writing a powerful character?