I recently read an article by Jane Goodall who was frustrated with a particular literary genre:

“… the Bookers just aren’t doing it for me any more. The truth is I don’t like the writing. It’s brilliant, of course, but the better it is, the more I hate it. Sometimes I hate words, words in themselves, words that draw attention to themselves in the vanity of writing …”

I like that expression, “the vanity of writing”. She of course does not mean that the writing is futile but rather she is referring to the excessive pride in the creation of the words. These are the words that gleam and soar brilliantly above the page even as the reader frowns trying to make sense of the sentence!

Jane Goodall would much rather read a novel with a good plot. For her, good writers are good storytellers:

“Storytelling is a tradition surely as ancient as human speech and, if our oldest mythologies are anything to go by, suspense is always at the heart of the matter … [yet] a combination of influences have served to almost eradicate the plot from high-end fiction and, along with it, most of the technical apparatus belonging to the art of suspense.”

However a good section of readers will affix themselves to the literary novel. The beauty in the words are paramount, the story is incidental.

I am rather promiscuous in my own reading diet, moving from genre to genre without any loyalties.

What kind of books do you like to read?

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