[LMB] unreliable narrators

Elizabeth Holden azurite at rogers.com
Wed Apr 26 03:20:53 BST 2006

I said:

> I've yet to discover a reliable
> and consistent definition of 'good'.

I suppose the adjective I should have added there is
'objective'.  People can work out definitions of
'good' for themselves, but on a universal basis?

> Has anyone? Good things generally last longer.

That would appear to be intuitively obvious but I'm
not sure it's true.  Most people would agree that
Homer and  Dante and Shakespeare are 'good' but we
don't know about the lost masterpieces that may have
existed between them and have been lost - not because
they weren't good, but because of the fragility of the
written or spoken word.  

I queried second-fry fiction:

> It's not fresh oil, so it has little crispy bits in
> that are very nice, but you feel like you've
> over-dosed on grease afterwards.

So.... unoriginal ideas, presented cloyingly?
> Yes. I suppose I enjoy using the intellectual energy
> on books which take me somewhere. But you can learn
> a lot by analyszing bad books too. Spending time on
> good books can show you what's missing from the bad
> ones.

I wasn't really thinking in terms of 'good books' and
'bad books' because I am generally suspicious of these
terms.  So often books described as 'good' are books I
think simply follow an intellectual/literary fashion;
and many books I think are good are unknown or ignored
or undervalued.  This is not true, I'm happy to say,
of Turner or Bujold.

What determines what books I like to analyze would be
hard to articulate.  I like analyzing fiction I have
enjoyed, poking at its ideas and unravelling its
structure.  This is as true of X-Men comics as of
classic literature - and Vorkosigan novels. Whatever.

I wouldn't do it with material I didn't enjoy - not
for fun, anyway.  Does that mean I wouldn't do it for
'bad books'? That's the question.

> The same is true of any form of art.
> Fan-fic can train you well.

I think it does.


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