Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Don't like it? Or don't "get" it?
Yes, that's an otter scratching his head. I'm sure I could have found a photo that better evokes the sense of being confused, but... LOOK! OTTER! Awwwwwwww.
So, yesterday I briefly alluded to my belief that there is a difference between not liking a book and not "getting" a book (although I imagine the frustration associated with the latter often leads to a sense of the former).
I think that I "get" The Great Gatsby. It's a Jazz Age cautionary tale about the glittering temptations of money and ambition, with some love and new beginnings thrown in, that reveals the dark side of the American Dream. I DON'T CARE. Those horrible characters deserve every bad thing that happens to them, and I can't stand reading about them, it's like being trapped at a cocktail party with people who think they're better than you simply because you have the basic decency to nod and listen when they talk.
The Liberated Bride, however, is a book I don't "get." The language is beautiful, and there is so much of interest going on (it is set in 1990's Israel and explores political elements as well as personal)... and I just have no idea what I was supposed to get from this book. I want to like it, but it eludes me.
And I'm going to have to move into the realm of films to come up with an example of a story that I both dislike and don't "get." Napoleon Dynamite. What the hell is up with that movie? It's boring, annoying, stupid, and so many people seem to think that it's genius. I hate it AND I don't get it. You don't want to just punch every character in the face? Really? Why not? Because I really, really do. I can't imagine why anyone would want to write about these people. At least I know why someone would, in theory, want to write about Jay Gatsby and Daisy.
Which is worse? A book you don't like, or a book you don't get? Wait, I think I've got it. The worst is a book you don't like because you don't get why everyone ELSE likes it.
Let's start going back to the good stuff. What is a book that you like, but you feel like some part of it is just beyond your reach? Is there a book you love where you're just dying to go up to the author and ask, "but what did you mean by that?" Any endings you want to have explained?