Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Club

I was having a discussion with Jeremy yesterday about his love/hate relationship with contemporary literature. As an avid reader, he expressed his lament about how the prose in recent fictions are often too "easily digestible" and "mass oriented". Though their subject matters tend to pertain to issues people deal with on a daily basis thus making them very relatable in the sense that the stories could very well be true. He however finds that a great deal of successful contemporary writers (ie. Palanuik and Coupland) stick too much to the "formula of success" by identifying too much with sensationalism and commercialism. To him, he believes that the writings don't delve deep enough into the nature of life and the conditions of humanity. Conversely, he finds classic Russian literature (ie. Tolstoy and Dostoyesky) to be a lot more compelling and realistic. 

I on the other hand am much more appreciative of what writers can do nowadays. Some of my favourite writers are quite popular with the masses precisely because their prose are easy to understand and straight forward. I also find underrated local writers to be especially inspiring (read Salt Fish Girl by Larissa Lai, it's amazing!). Then I realized his problem existed within the confines of modern living. If you ever read classical fictions, and compare them to a book that may live on to one day become a classic piece of work, you'll see just how the struggles of the human race has changed. Books such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have heavy focuses on the oppression, prejudices and general hardship. Whereas books such as Fight Club, and Hey Nostradamus! express the anguish and discontentment of isolation and losses. I'm not saying that modern literature don't deal with what classical fictions deal with but modern literature is "easily digestible" because people are primed to digest issues like that. Intense political struggles and poverty are not as poignant as they would be back in the days and people aren't as ready to live vicariously when they read those things as they would if they were reading about personal mental states and the pressures of living in a highly competitive society. Thus the reason why Jeremy would find old classical literature more compelling is because they deal so intensely with overcoming adversity. Life in the 1900's is fucking hard! In 2012, not so much because nothing really directly threaten our survival (at least not in this part of the world).

Oh hey, I got green and purple ombre (fancy way of saying dip dye) in my hair.

1 comment:

vliin said...

Marvellous read. I agree with your boyfriend's point of view, mine has similar views by the way :) he's been trying his hand at writing since a couple of months and I'm strongly encouraging him to continue. If he ever succeeds in finishing a work, it'll be refreshing to current-day literature: going back to the essence of life, feelings, observations, far away from commercial sensationalism. I'm trying to do the same thing lyric-wise in my music. We'll see where our little writer's home will take us. In the meantime I think we'll both stick to Beckett, the Russians you mentioned, and many many other great literature from the past.
Nice ombre too ;)