Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What do you think?

Most people view their events and the people they meet through the veil of their own experiences. Wouldn't you agree? It's hard to completely disassociate yourself from your past enough to be a truly blank canvas. But as writers isn't that what we strive for? To present things with no veil, no preconceived notions for the reader to interpret?

I've read books where the author was a little too pushy about how they wanted the reader to read, react and interpret the events of the novel. It was upsetting, as if she was trying to take my agency, my perceptions away. It felt as if she didn't trust me, and overall the experience was a bad one. I didn't like feeling forced or pigeonholed.

I've also read books that presented the most horrible things in such an accepted way that I was disturbed. There are somethings that are not open to interpretation as to whether or not they're good or bad. The fact that the author went to so much trouble to try and make the most reprehensible things seem up for personal choice felt wrong. It made it difficult to trust the author. I didn't know if they would truly support something lke that or if they had done it purely for sensational purposes.

I guess it's a fine line to walk, and the line will vary a bit for everyone, as, once again, our perceptions color how we view things.

And maybe that's what an author owes his readers, honesty.



18 comments:

  1. Nice post, S. P. It really is a fine line. I read a spy book that was on the dark side, but the darkness served a purpose to show the real world of a spy without exonerating the darkness. I read another book by a highly successful author renowned for excellent writing - and the writing really shimmered, but the story's treatment of dark, unpalatable elements was so accepting and dispassionate, that I felt "betrayed". I know endings often have to continue in the reader's mind, especially in literary fiction. Still, what was the "journey" for, if not to lead to some kind of conclusion? But the author just presented things in a "this is what happened" mode in a way that didn't lead anywhere. I personally won't read a book by that author again.

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    1. Exactly. I'm not a rainbow and sunshine reader. I can handle darker stuff, if it has a purpose. It's when they put it in there more as a side note, just to put it in, or, as you said, in an accepting way that bothers me.

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  2. Readers will bring their own biases and experiences to every book they read. I've had to set down books that deal with issues that are triggers for me, though for others they might not be trigger issues. So there's that to consider, too. I agree, books that force ideas on you in such a pushy way, rather than allowing you to form your own opinions, are a huge turn-off. I guess we have to cast our votes in the only way we can: with Amazon reviews and refusing to purchase the books in the first place.

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    1. Yes, I think we all have books we are not ready to read or handle. I know there are books I've put down for that reason. Good thing there are so many authors/books/styles out there.

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  3. And honest writing is such a hard thing. It's like you are opening your soul for the world to consider and judge.

    Excellent point on it being a balancing act.

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    1. It is hard. You'd think it would be easy but it's not.

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  4. LOVE this post. That's the best thing an author can be...honest. We're all going to react differently to stories because of our experiences. There's nothing wrong with that. It's also why reviews are so subjective.

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  5. wow, now I'm wondering what you read! yes, totally agree!

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  6. Yes, a fine line, but one we all must thread with delicacy. All of our characters are a combination of our own natures and imagination. So we do have to add our view *as that character* would see it. Our experiences inform the work. How well we tread the line is up to our hard work.

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  7. oh yeah, it's a very fine line, and it takes a subtle, balanced, and delicate hand to pull it off. I hate it when i can see an author pulling strings or over-arguing. Barbara Kingsolver, who I usually love, went too far in that direction in her latest book, and it bothered me.

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  8. Last year there was a book that my mom and I read at the same time, and we both struggled with what felt like a very forced point of view from the author. I prefer to be able to come to those types of conclusions on my own, and to let the words do their thing.

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  9. Yes, I don't like it either when a writer is forcing us to think a certain way. I do think we as writers bring who we are into our writing though.

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  10. Hmmm...It sounds more like the author had an agenda, or maybe they needed an outcome to be a certain way and really forced the reader to see the event in a way to make their ending/resolution work? Not sure, and it's hard to say. I personally don't tread that fine line (if I'm aware of it).

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  11. I agree--I don't like being 'told' how to react to events. And I don't like reading disturbing events purely for the sake of shock value. I understand bad things happen in life and that is reflected in fiction, but I really think evil or disturbing events need to further the plot, rather than be included just to shock the reader.

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  12. Hmmm, interesting.. and so here's my nonsense (instead of my two cents :)

    I'm reading two books at the moment... "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera and "The Shadow of The Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

    Here's my "problem" ....

    *I* feel like Kundera is lecturing me, whereas Zafón is, to me, a master storyteller who's holding the carrot out at the end of every sub-chapter, let alone every official chapter :)

    So, I will recommend The Shadow of the Wind to EVERYONE (and I can't believe how uncouth I was never to have heard of this book before) while at the same time, I may not even finish The Unbearable... (excuse the Freudian slip :)

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  13. I feel that way sometimes too and you articulated what has been in my head. In general, I don't like books where it seems like the author's motives for telling such a story seems very transparent. And I also don't like books where something terrible is interpreted in a casual way.

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  14. I feel that way sometimes too and you articulated what has been in my head. In general, I don't like books where it seems like the author's motives for telling such a story seems very transparent. And I also don't like books where something terrible is interpreted in a casual way.

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  15. One thing I've noticed about myself is that I can handle reading about a lot, but seeing similar images in a movie or on tv is much more disturbing. Reading gives time to process things, I guess, while i,ages are much more quick and in your face (well, duh).

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