Let’s face it; if you’re reading the BMR blog, odds are you are a person with a literary bent. A writer. An editor. Someone who reads obscure, thought-provoking literature. Unless you are here by mistake, in which case, carry on down the internet road. For the rest of you, I know your secret.
The realization came to me after a Facebook thread with some of my writer friends. It started as a simple conversation about publishing and ended up with most of us making horrible confessions. I was the first to confess.
I have never been able to finish a Toni Morrison book. No, not even The Bluest Eye.
My wife was horrified, and then admitted the she despises Dickens. A few minutes later another post popped up and my friend confessed that she read one Cormac McCarthy book and decided: never again. Later, someone else boldly pronounced that he can’t read Junot Diaz. Then, the relief of another person burst forth when she finally admitted that she finds Alice Munro unbearable. Jonathan Franzen was deemed “horrible.” To my surprise someone even disparaged Margaret Atwood.
A dam had broken and the confessions of so many people and their dislike of exalted writers flooded in. There were phone calls, emails. It was shocking how many of us had spent years, decades even, harboring our true feelings for fear of being judged by our peers in the literary/writing world. What happened next was even odder. In addition to confessing to what we didn’t like came the unexpected confessions of what we sometimes do like.
It seems that many of us have literary skeletons in our closet, those novels and short stories, often poorly written, that we love to read in secret. Harlequin Romance, Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, anything by Dean Koontz, Dungeons & Dragons fantasy books, 50 Shades of Grey, all of the Twilight Saga, and my darkest confession, V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic. The list goes on.
In some ways it seems we secretly revel in bad writing as much as we publicly laud what we consider good writing. Personally, I feel that we should embrace our hedonistic reading as much as our intellectual analysis of others’ writing. It gives us a break from the cerebral and allows us to just read for the fun of the story, like we did before we learned to read closely.
So, open that closet, throw caution to the wind, and tell us: what is your literary confession?
Shawn Fricke is originally from Detroit, but now makes his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife and son. He splits his time between family, work, writing, and occasionally reading embarrassing novels.