Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thoughts on Easy Reading.


I know I keep referring back to my previous post “The Problem with Contemporary Fiction”, but I just can’t help it. I cannot get the issue out of my head, the thing between contemporary fiction and chick-lit. The fact that I’m currently reading a chick-lit novel, Jennifer Weiner’s Fly Away Home, makes me think about it even more. I’m sure that this book is a chick-lit novel because the story revolves around three main characters, Sylvie, Diana and Lizzie, who are all women (I’m also quite sure that it can be considered as a contemporary fiction novel too, but anyways.)

So, I came across a quote I read some time ago from Nathaniel Hawthorne:

"Easy reading is damn hard writing."

And then it hit me.

We always find chick-lit novels as light books, easy reads (well, at least most of them, with several exceptions in mind like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre). The style, the characters, they are so real (if that’s the right word, “real”) that we can connect to them as if we ourselves were the story, like it’s a part of our daily lives. True, in some cases they are so light up to a point that the characterization and plot presentation are just too weak, that we now can’t even make out what to connect with. But great and legendary chick-lit novels, like The Bridget Jones’ Diary, are easy enough and deep enough, now this combination makes a fabulous reading experience.

Easy reading is damn hard writing. So, good easy reading, good chick-lit reading, is damn hard writing, don’t you think? I think from time to time many of us have undervalued chick-lit writers, find them as less than historical fiction writers, or nothing more than fun and amateurish writing, merely because chick-lit novels are usually easy to read. I played this quote over and over in my head and I’m starting to think that we got it all reversed. Maybe all this time, chick-lit novels are harder to write than historical fiction novels (with no disrespect to all historical fiction writers out there).

Okay, maybe not. I’m sure (I know for sure) that all writers, from all sorts of genres, from all sorts of fields, have their own ups and downs, dilemmas, glories and difficulties, and none is easier or better than the other. And when I think over about easy reading, it’s not exactly about adopting conversational style all the time, but rather making the point of the writing across to the reader, no matter what genre the piece is under. Writing pieces that can be understood, that connects with the readers, are somehow “easy” reads, simply because you get it. Well, yes, even though I get Pride and Prejudice but I still consider it as “hard” reading, but I guess this is due to the novel being written in a different age of time than the present, not because it’s not a good read.

Anyhow, that’s what I thought. I’m pretty sure I still have some thoughts on contemporary fiction and chick-lit (and probably women’s fiction too), but for now these are all I got in mind.  

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