|I was wondering what to do for this week’s Thursday Thirteen but then I got an email from Carl, linking to this post and providing perfect inspiration. So this T13 is a couple of responses to that post. And yes, I know, I shouldn’t feed the troll, but what the hell, I may as well.
Have you ever noticed how much fantasy readers read? It’ really astonishing. … Of course, they’re really proud of this chew-through-the-phonebook capacity.
Proud? Not so much. I don’t care how much I read, why would a word count of what I’ve read be something to be proud of?
The 80 people who did the “challenge” read four or five books from different fantasy sub-genres (Like, I guess, books with two-handed broadswords vs. books with crossbows)
Ah, ignorance. There really is nothing like it is there? Talk about moaning over something that you really know nothing about.
Hereâ€™s the prob, though: There isn’t anything remotely “challenging” about this project. If you find it challenging to read a bunch of fantasy books, you need to –well, I don’t know what you can do, frankly. I was going to say take some classes at your local community college,but I’m not sure that would do it.
Again, ignorance shines through. The challenge was to read books that you wouldn’t usually. It had nothing to do with the “quality” of the books themselves. It was simply to take a look outside your comfort zone. If I’m totally honest, I didn’t really do that as I’m already a fantasy fan and so my challenge was to read new authors or books that I’d been putting off.
And the books – that shining duo of modern literature, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman … The Princess Bride, miscellaneous stuff by That Goddamned Terry Pratchett … a bonecrushing load of Neil Fucking Gaiman
So I’m guessing you see something wrong with those authors? What exactly is that? Weis & Hickman write entertaining, if derivative fantasy. The Princess Bride is a wonderful book. Terry Pratchett is a genius. Neil Gaiman? You are giving out about people reading Neil Gaiman? And yet you haven’t given me a single reason why you dislike these authors.
Also Sheri S. Tepper – and by the way, Tepper readers, why didn’t any of you go with The Gate to Women’s Country? It’s the one thing she’s written that deserves to go down in history as a significant work of feminist lit. Read it.
Why? Because you say so? I’ve read some of Tepper’s work. It is okay, but she gets far too preachy for my personal taste. I’ve no problem with works of fiction having a message, but I really don’t need to be hit over the head with a giant hammer to get the fact that being hit in the head hurts. Also, instead of simply stating your viewpoint as an absolute fact why not try to persuade me. Give me one reason why I should read The Gate to Women’s Country and maybe I will. Then again, maybe I won’t.
But none of these books are challenging. They aren’t daunting in structure or syntax … only a tiny minority of them will still be talked about 50 years from now. They’re bedtime reading — superlatively crafted bedtime reading in some cases, but bedtime reading nonetheless.
And this really is the crux of the matter isn’t it? You want us to read “challenging” books. You seem to want to foist your interpretation of what makes a great book on us. But here’s the thing, that isn’t what this reading challenge was about. You seem to have misinterpreted the whole exercise. Who cares what people will be talking about in fifty years time? But also, if you haven’t read a book how will you know whether or not it is worthy of discussion? I won’t know if the De Vinci Code is really a great thriller or a mindless piece of crap until I read it.
Like, who cares if a bunch of nerds want to congratulate themselves for finishing American Gods in three nights flat.
Again with the straw man argument? We weren’t reading these books in order to pat ourselves on the back. Merely to read the books, maybe enjoy them, and share that experience. The only congratulating being done was because a target had been set, and met. And there is nothing wrong in that. But not one review or site I visited was congratulating itself on reading as many books as possible in as short a time as possible. But you know, feel free to make stuff up to suit your post.
Even though these people have nothing whatsoever to do with me or my life (beyond feeding a sort of amorphous anxiety about the future of Real Literature) they really, really irritate me
I’ve no problem with you being irritated by us. Feel free, but you know what an easy solution would be? To switch off. If you don’t like something, and it doesn’t have any connection to you then don’t watch/read/interact with it. It is simple. Don’t like Big Brother, then don’t watch it Don’t like CSI then change the station. Don’t like this reading challenge, then don’t play along.
I just can’t stand it when nerds act all superior about their stupid crap. I read a lot too, you know. But I don’t want a freaking medal for it.
Who was acting superior Who wanted a medal?
So cut it out, nerds! Take the FanDumb challenge: This month, read some fantasy-inflected Real Lit. Like Jonathan Carroll or Madison Smartt Bell. Or Mark Danielewski or Jonathan Lethem or Kazuo Ishiguro. You won’t finish as fast, but you’ll annoy me a hell of a lot less.
Who says I won’t finish them as fast? As though that is even a goal! Also, who says we haven’t read these authors. I don’t just read one thing. I’ve read Carroll, and I’ve read Weis & Hickman, and I’ve read Tolkien, and I’ve read Ishiguro, and I’ve read Homer, and I’ve read Plato, and I’ve read Mieville, and I’ve read Gaiman and Pratchett and Rowling and Whitman, and Heaney, and, well I could go on, but why bother? I don’t just read one genre, I’ve read fantasy, and sci-fi, and post-colonial studies, and historical fiction, and so-called Literature, and modern classics and Shakespeare and science and history and fanfic and, well, pretty much any genre there is, apart from tentacle porn So who do you think you are, that you can tell me, or any one else, what they should be reading?
- But you know what the biggest problem with that post was? The tone of it. Full of “I’m looking down my nose at you, you smelly silly stupid fantasy reader you”. That isn’t really likely to change anyone’s mind is it? You want to persuade me to try a new author by telling me that the ones I enjoy are shite? Yeah, I don’t think you are going to get very far with that attitude. Tell me why you like something, why you love something, and then I probably will give it a go.
- I might not like it. I might disagree with you. I might hate it. Doesn’t mean I’d have to insult you. Taste is entirely subjective. The only reason that the canon of classics exists is because a group of people decided that these books were somehow worthy. They enjoyed them, or got something out of them, people wanted to read them and so they were read. Any regular readers here will know that I’m not a huge fan of labels and defining X as not being Y. To me, most of what is great uses different elements mixed together. After all, that is what life is isn’t it? For example, Firefly is a sci-fi show it is, afterall, set in space, but it is also a romance, a war story, a crime caper, a drama, a comedy, a character study. Sure, I use labels, but I’m also prepared to look beyond that label, because a label is just that, something stuck on, for convenience’s sake.
- I have absolutely no problem with people disagreeing with me, or liking what I hate, or hating what I love. Just don’t think that because I read and enjoy crap like Jilly Cooper that I am incapable of reading and enjoying more “worthy” tomes. But please, if you think you know anything about me because I participated in one reading challenge? Yeah, nuff said.
Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
- While Sleepwalking
- The Goat Rodeo
- Books. Lists. Life
- Everybody lies
- The Written World
- The hidden side of a leaf
- Modern Musings
- A place for everything
- (leave your link in comments, Iâ€™ll add you here!)