culture

Things That Don’t Work For Me

I have a love of 1800s literature. It’s not an exclusive source of study for me, but I genuinely enjoy reading H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley, Jules Verne and the like.

I like even older things, like Alexander Dumas and Shakespeare. I like newer classic authors like Bradbury, Asimov, Tolkien and Heinlein. I like even newer authors like Anne Rice, Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin. I’m not afraid to try anything, when it comes to literature.

So when I run into something that is considered a classic, I always mark it down to try. I’m not going to name a name here, because I see the reviews of those who did not enjoy it spawned a plethora of angry literary responses.

Suffice it to say, for some classics, I don’t understand what makes them classic. They don’t necessarily speak to the human condition, save pettiness and backbiting and pointless ritual and bickering.

And these are the romantic style. I wanted to like this particular novel and its later mash-up but two things were against it.

First, the original is boring as shit. And as much as I was hoping the mash-up would bring an edge, or at least, a laugh, the premise grew repetitive and tired quickly and couldn’t make up for the fairly dull plot of the base material.

That’s the problem with “pithy” and “clever”. It spends so much time trying to be that, that it loses the heart of the thing. Dumas works because it always comes back to the raw emotion of the thing. Inasmuch as he can get lost in “cleverness” and flowery language, he always seems to redeem himself. Milady de Winter is still one of the best villains ever written.

It’s possible it’s an era thing. It’s also possible that it just doesn’t jive with me.

Lots of things don’t.

Lots of things do. I can range from Rushdie to Rand to Stan Lee to Alan Moore in a heartbeat. I’ve no problem sitting down with macho man Ernest Hemingway and following it up with Sylvia Plath. Dry as it may have been, I fully enjoyed The Bully Pulpit. I believe I read Fanboys Vs. Zombies shortly afterward and loved it.

For some reason, these fit me. Or they provide me with a perspective I would not have otherwise have. Or at least, they’re entertaining enough to continue reading, with at least a ghost of a shared value or interest to make it worth my while.

This didn’t, for some reason, which is sad, I suppose, in a way. In another way, it’s like clothing that doesn’t appeal to me. It might look nice on another person, but not me. Hell, they might look like they’re about to hit the red carpet, but if I throw on that push-up bra and the kaleidoscope dress with the slit cut up to the hip bone, I’m just going to look like a fat, bearded guy doing bad drag.

And I doubt that appeals much to anyone.

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