On reading fiction
I often think I don’t have time to read fiction which is simply not true. However there are a couple of reasons why I feel this way. One is I don’t like to read things which are emotionally draining. I don’t believe in sad endings or endings that offer no hope. There is enough sadness in the real world without adding more sadness in the fictitious world.
My second reason is I dislike reading descriptive passages about the weather, or the scenery, or the flowers in the garden which is generally part of a novel but not non-fiction, even if it is a biography. I really can’t see the point of description. I very quickly get drawn into a story. I don’t need long descriptions for me to see the scene in my mind. Just tell me it’s snowing and I see snow. Another reason given for descriptive passages is that these passages are beautiful and it shows the writer’s ability to write beautiful passages and use innovative metaphors. Personally I can’t see the point of writing beautifully if it doesn’t move the story forward. For me it is all about the characters – what happens to them and why they behave the way they do. If the book is overburden with descriptive passages it simply slows the story. When someone launches into a story, verbal or written, I want to know: What’s the point? Where is this going? And how long is it going to take to get there?
I was thinking about this today because I have just finished reading, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards. While it did have a little too much description for my liking, it was a great read and did end well. I’ll write a book review next week.