I like a good yarn.
I like a good yarn more than I like a piece of ‘good’ modern literature, on the whole, given that ‘good’ literature these days often seems dedicated to the deep excavation of very boring minds. Which is a sweeping generalisation and I know that full well and offer no excuse. Although if I were to excavate my own boring mind, I could probably come up with something suitably deep and meaningful, like a legacy of childhood: the secret, passive aggressive rebellion against the constant demands of her eldest sister’s literary snobbery. But really, why bother?
I like a good yarn. With at least one character I can relate to. Why invite into my mental refuge a crowd of boring – fake – simpering (I hate simpering) – stupid – cardboard people? Or a gathering hell bent on creating cringe-worthy situations that can’t possibly end well? There’s enough of that on the news.
A lot of good yarns involve Coleridge’s ‘willing suspension of disbelief’. Murder mysteries, for example. I have no knowledge of homicide investigations and don’t want any. But I can happily go along with what the author chooses to present as truth (give or take one coincidence or lucky break too many). I can also cope with our hero/heroine doing blatantly stupid stuff secure in the knowledge that they survive. What I don’t like is bleak.
Which isn’t to say I don’t read non-fiction or watch documentaries. I do. But if I’m reading for entertainment, I want it to be entertaining. Is that so wrong?
I suspect that really, there are a lot of people like me: people who’d rather read the latest Harlan Coben than the latest literary masterpiece. The difference is that I’m too old to bother pretending.