Monday, July 9, 2012
On Intimidating Authors
Literary fiction has always terrified me.
This all started when I read Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami in college. One of my literature classmates said IT WAS THE BEST BOOK EVER, and threw around words like ‘metafiction’ and ‘postmodernism’ to describe how amazing it was. I immediately got my hands on a copy of the book and started reading it.
I didn't understand a thing. What the hell does this little cottage in the middle of the mother effing woods stand for? Is this woman his sister, his cousin, or his three-headed mother-in-law? I could not grasp what Murakami was trying to tell me. Since I’ve always thought of myself as pretty smart, this was a huge blow to my ego.
Never wanting to feel stupid again, I simply decided to stay away from literary fiction (or maybe just Haruki Murakami, I’m not sure).
I guess my decision wasn’t that firm, because literary fiction novels seem to have accumulated in my shelves. I’ve got The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster, What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt (who is gorgeous, by the way), Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I’m sure these books will be filled with awesome but hard-to-comprehend ideas, and I’m preparing myself for unexpected things galore.
I’ve always been comfortable with the classics, because these books have already been dissected and discussed by other people (some of these people even had PhDs). Every time I can’t figure something out by myself, there will always be another book or another article to turn to enlighten me.
Literary fiction is completely different. These books are filled with ideas from people living and breathing at this very moment. Yes, people have also dissected these books, but, most of the time, I will have to comprehend the themes by myself. So, I’m going to buckle up and finish The New York Trilogy and all the other literary fiction novels I own, because it’s time for me to stop being scared of my own ideas, of looking stupid because I might’ve interpreted something wrong.
What about you? Which literary fiction authors do you find intimidating?