Monday, September 12, 2016

Craving Narrative for Comfort

Besides loving, and reading copious quantities of, literature (and studying it and teaching it) over many years, I have a parallel, intertwined craving for narrative, for story. Literature is much more than story, of course, and I appreciate all that is involved in that “much more.” But at the base of it all, perhaps, is that need for story. Sometimes so much so that it becomes a bit separated from “literature” in its highest manifestation, and becomes a sort of provider of entertainment, distraction and comfort. Especially when one is – OK, when I am – stressed, worried, or “down,” a kind of “medicine” is a direct application of large doses of story, well written but not “great literature.” Some of the novels in this category that I read are ones that I don’t usually post about here. Not that there is anything wrong with them, or reading them. To the contrary. But the way I consume them is not with deep thought, and sometimes I can’t remember much about them after I read them. They serve a purpose, but are not necessarily important for me to share my thoughts about. They still have to be well crafted; I don’t completely turn off my critical faculties when reading them. But I am less demanding, and looking for something a little bit different, than when I am reading recognized literary fiction. Some of the providers of story, and the comfort that comes with such novels, that I have been reading lately (at a time when a family member is quite sick) are written by such popular (for a reason!) authors as Jane Green, Emily Giffin, Elin Hildebrand, Jodi Picoult, and Anita Shreve. I thank these and other authors for the enjoyment they provide, and for the time away from worry that they offer.
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