Stranger than fiction

Early blogging today. I’m waiting for The Cop to finish his coffee before we begin practice. Going over a few emails from work. The holiday schedule thing is happening at work: too many meetings, too few hours. I have an 8 AM meeting this morning, and tomorrow is a global conference call, which means those of us in Arizona call in at 5 AM. Hence, no Mysore practice. Blech. I’ll just have to block off my schedule so I can get to Volleyball Guy’s 4 PM led class later in the day.

Yesterday, Tim left a comment about the book I was reading (and which I finished last night). I am having strange and confusing thoughts about fiction these days. As I was reading On Beauty, I started to wonder why, exactly, I was involving myself in this story. It is well-written, and has a compelling-enough plot, but…well, why? Why would I get tangled up in the drama of these pretend people? Set in a university setting in the Northeast, with the usual professor/student dramas, and liberal versus conservative political issues, etc., etc. I think I used to remember I didn’t care for fiction with a university setting, but I wanted to give it another go. Um, maybe I shouldn’t have. The characters, and ultimately the novel, seemed rather indulgent and overwrought. And I kept wondering, “Why am I doing this to my psyche?” After all, my emotions/body don’t know that this is all pretend; my mind does, of course, but the emotional hangover of fiction is real.

These are distressingly blasphemous thoughts from a gal who usually relishes blasphemy (when applied to religion–but goodness, NOT when applied to fiction! 😉 I guess I’ll try another novel and see how that goes. Maybe, though, I’ll need to switch to non-fiction or something.

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2 Responses

  1. I’m reading On Beauty right now too. I’m having a much harder time getting into it than White Teeth.

    –A

  2. I remember seeing John Irving read from Cider House Rules in college, and talk about how his job was to make you care for characters and then hurt them. (His lecture also chrystalized my views on abortion, but that’s another story.) I unfortunately can’t remember the full context of Irving’s phrase – which has stuck in my mind for all these years – but I think it is part of creating the empathy which enables people to at least imagine themselves walking in other peoples shoes. There seems to be far too little of that these days.

    I remember On Beauty having a few “ahh” moments (which, since I was listening to it, I couldn’t mark in the margins to remember 😦 ), and I was very interested in the complexity of the relationship between Howard and Kiki in light of Howard’s infidelity. I can see your point on overindulgence though.

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