Saturday, December 16, 2006

To Each His Own



Yesterday's meme, created by moi, was a bit of silly fun, but what I enjoyed most was what other blogger's answered. The lists from Amy, T.L. (Christine, I'm waiting) and I are so vastly different, I was amazed.
You know what I find interesting... how three writers can have such vastly different favorites. It's wonderful - the diversity - and goes to show that there MUST be room for all types of authors in every different genre imagined (and unimagined!); that different books speak to us in different ways at different times in our lives. (wow - for a writer, you'd think I could come up with a different word for 'different') Anyway - back to my point:
I wonder, for instance, if Anne Shirley would still make my list of favorite characters if I were to read Anne of Green Gables again as an adult. I listed Anne, having read that series of books when I was about 8 or 9.
Would Memoirs of a Geisha or Knight in Shining Armor mean as much to me in an emotional sense today as they did five and fifteen years ago.
As a writer, would I now look for deeper meaing, find fault with grammatical style, plot points, narrative and dialogue tags?

This poses another question: What makes a classic, 'a classic'? Does it stand the test of time, appeal to broad audiences, brag perfect structure? Will The DaVinci Code, despite it's faults, be considered a classic one day based on sales and mass appeal alone, or will the copycats have diluted it's power?

Funny how TL, Amy and I, all who write/wrote romances, haven't really identified any of the 'romance classics' (in the vein of Wuthering Heights, or anything by Daniel Steele or Queen Nora) among our favorites, or our favorite authors. Curious, this.

Any feedback?

12 comments:

Christine said...

I'm slow, but I have mine up! Good point about how our perspectives change as we get older. I thought Trixi Belden was the coolest fictional person going when I was a kid. I doubt those books would have the same impact on me now. Then again, who knows. Charlotte's
Web did when I read it to my daughter.

Thomma Lyn said...

Excellent post, Wylie! :)

Yeah, I could easily have listed Wuthering Heights, or Jane Eyre for that matter -- I love them both. Gone With the Wind is also excellent. Ha, it was hard to list just six books, and the six I listed would probably be different based on which of my favorites sprang to mind on any given day.

I liked what you said about how different books speak to us differently during different times in our lives -- and LOL @ "different word for different." I've reread many of my favorite books a number of times, and they always have something new to say to me on each reread.

And I'll use that statement to segue into what I believe a "classic" is: it's a book with a story and characters that withstand the passage of years by having something timeless to say, applicable to any age or era in which it's read. And in that way, classics move us: they illuminate something of truth and perhaps of beauty, too. Fads come and go, but truths of the human condition endure. Many books flicker out pretty quickly, but classics have a long, long shelf life.

Wylie Kinson said...

Christine - I read Trixie when I was a kid, too!! Her and Nancy Drew... I wanted to BE them. And what a cool name,... Trixie ('course, now it sounds like a porn star.)

Wylie Kinson said...

T.L. -
Agree - some of the classic romances would have made my top 10 or 15, but I was going for books that that fit this criteria:
a)finished in one sitting - usually means I was up all night
b)affected me emotionally for days after reading
c)gave me an 'aha' moment by either teaching me something I didn't know or related specifically to something in my life at that exact time of reading.

As for what makes a classic a classic, I quite agree, but also wonder if some survive only because they're required reading for highschool. I'm cool with Shakespeare - his work is amazing and has never been repeated, but Moby Dick? Have you ever read it? I pride myself with sticking to books once I've started, and like the 'literary' works in general, but seriously, I could not, COULD NOT, get past chapter 3 for the boredom. Yawn. Ah, revenge and determination. I've read better.
But perhaps Moby has changed someone's life, perhaps it would even be on some reader's TOP 6 list... who knows?

Thomma Lyn said...

I haven't read Moby Dick -- it's one of those books I want to get around to reading, but I haven't gotten to it yet. But yeah, I think Moby's probably on somebody's top 6 list. And I'll confess to you that though Viginia Woolf was brilliant and an innovator, I have a hard time getting into her stuff. But there are plenty of folks out there who really dig her.

So I guess if a classic becomes a classic and stays a classic, it speaks to enough people over the ages to remain so.

Amy Ruttan said...

I love Austen, I love Bronte; I was reading way beyond my years in public school. My faves always affect me the same, every time I read them.

There are classics I have tried to read and cannot get through them. Honestly with The Fellowship of the Ring, I couldn't get past the first chapter. I saw the movie then I was able to wade through that first part of the story and I was fine, the next two books were so much easier to read.

My problem is now I can't really enjoy a good romance anymore. I really have a hard time reading them. I seem to be able to read chick lits because I don't write them ... but historical I can't read, I just have a hard time reading them. What do you make of that?

Christine said...

I loved Trixi so much as a kid, that is still my nick name from my Dad. Trust me, I don't look like a Trixi!

Wylie Kinson said...

Amy - Funny. I don't read romance very often, either. And I write it. I think I was saturated in my teens and twenties and now like things that are different from my own experiences, - like spy/drama/adventure, history (lots of history), and only turn to romance when I'm looking for a very quick escapist need. I also tend to stay loyal to authors rather than genre's. I also listen to what my friends like.

Wylie Kinson said...

TL - LOL at Virginia Wolf. ME EITHER! Yawn...

Amy - one more thing: I read LOTR when I was about 14 and it was a fun exciting adventure series to me then. I re-read it when I was 30ish and WOW - the religious-culture symbolism was hit-me-on-the-head obvious and the undertones of hitler/war etc... were subtle yet unmistakable. I couldn't believe I enjoyed it as a teen because as an adult, I could barely grasp the deeper meanings!

Wylie Kinson said...

LOL, Christine, at being called Trixie!! Man, she was cool! Wonder why she was never as famous as Nancy Drew? Politics in publishing perhaps :) I smell a conspiracy!!

Thomma Lyn said...

Yes, the LOTR trilogy -- my experience is the same as yours, Wylie. I read it once as a kid and loved it for its adventure, and when I read it as a young adult, I loved it for its layers and symbolism, and whenever I read it next, not just as an adult but as a writer myself, I'll be in awe of Tolkien's ability, imagination and worldbuilding skills. :)

Thomma Lyn said...

Christine, I read Trixie Belden, too. Thanks for reminding me -- I haven't thought about her in a long time. And I devoured the Nancy Drew mysteries like candy.

As a young'un, I also adored Ramona Quimby and Harriet the Spy. :-D