…but that doesn’t mean they have nutritional value (Part 1)
Women’s studies, my ass (Maud Newton)
On the one hand, I respect a person’s right to write and read fluff. It sells. People enjoy reading it. Cool. I used to read Judith Krantz. What of it?
But on the other hand, the implication that it’s anything more than what it is bugs. It might be an entertaining story, a good yarn, as they used to say. But it’s not literature. Literature isn’t obsessed with shoes.
I was having a hard time getting started on my NaNo and I remembered a book I read earlier this year (The Rules of Engagement by Catherine Bush). I thought reading a page or two might inspire me because, as I recalled, it had a style/tone similar to what I was trying to achieve. Anyhow, one of the back cover review quotes says, in part: “As any fine novel should, it raises more questions than it answers…”
A literary work is contemplative. The writer thinks about things, which means the narrator/protagonist thinks about things, which in turn makes the reader think about things. It’s a dialogue, a conversation, because it requires the reader to actively work to fill in what the writer has left unsaid. Because of this, two people who read the same book might be left with very different impressions of what it means.
A fluffy book doesn’t require thinking. In fact, thinking too much spoils the effect of the fluffy book, because it usually exposes inconsistencies or flaws in the narrative. With a fluffy book, the writer tells the reader a story. There is no ambiguity as to what it is about. It’s meant to be entertaining, fun, “an escape,” just like a summer movie or a cheesy soap.
Not-thinking is the entire point of fluffy books! Thus, it’s oxymoronic to claim that they are substantial works that actually make a statement about something.
To be continued…