Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Beloved Character With No Soul, Paddington Bears,and Geek Love, or What Happens When You Throw A Question Out On Your Blog

My follow-up post yesterday to this one brought about some interesting outcomes. First, Domey Malasarn has been dared to write about a character he loves, one that is without a soul.

Second, F. Scott Bailey shares his antidote to reading books that are too grim.

And those are just the outward consequences. In responding to
the insightful comments, I have been thinking and re-thinking about how I feel about difficult books. Reading The Solitude of Prime Numbers allowed me to discover a few things and now I am toying with the idea of doing another experiment.

But first, a bit of backstory.

Sometime last year, Jim McCarthy offered to give book suggestions to readers who told him the last three books they enjoyed. The book he recommended to me was Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. After reading about it, I decided to wait and chose to read some suggestions he offered other readers. I found Purple Hibiscus and This Is Where I Leave You this way.

One of the reason I shied away from Geek Love is its subject matter. From what I've read about it, the book is populated with people who do things that are difficult to understand. One character willingly ingested unsafe chemicals while pregnant in hopes of producing children who will be deformed. Just this bit of information alone gives me chills.

Yet I'd heard good things about Geek Love from different sources. And since I am exploring why I don't want to continue books that are bleak and depressing in which people do nasty things to others for unfathomable reasons, this book seems like a prime candidate to test that premise.

But I am not sure if I really want to.

Have any of you read it? Or if not, what do you think you would do if you were me?


scott g.f.bailey said...

I haven't read Geek Love, but despite the weird premise, people I know who've read it have all said it was actually sweet.

Yat-Yee said...

Sweet hasn't been a word used to describe Geek Love that I've read, but for some strange reason, I think I can believe. it.

MG Higgins said...

I'm sorry I missed your original post. I notice you mentioned the book ROOM which I also kept reading, even though it was bleak. I not only cared greatly about the mc, I was also engaged in the plot--I had to find out what happened to the boy and his mother (and the perpetrator). If the author makes me care enough about the mc--and if there's at least a sliver of hope--I'll keep reading no matter how depressing the situation. Haven't read GEEK LOVE, but now I'm intrigued.

Mizmak said...

I read it when it came out, and I outright hated it. Couldn't find a single character to relate to or care about, and yes, the subject matter was often distasteful, at least to me.

Then again, having read tons of grim stuff in my college days and currently in my morning newspaper, when it comes to reading fiction I generally now stick to cozy mysteries, middle-grade children's books, and the occasional fantasy or adventure story. I'm done with grim -- been there, done that, both in real life and in fiction. So I'm not the best judge of such works.

Yat-Yee said...

MG: Yes, wanting to see what happens to the boy and knowing that he'll turn out okay was a factor in my continuing to read ROOM as well.

Mizmak: Did you finish reading it though? I am curious.

Mizmak said...

To the best of my hazy recollection, I read about 2/3 of it and skimmed the rest, though I may have read it all -- it was back in the days when I used to finish every book even when I didn't like it, just to see if things would improve. I read all of "The World According to Garp" and hated it, too.

Nowadays if I'm not liking something within the first 2-3 chapters, it goes straight to the Friends of the Library.

Tim Riley said...

Hi Yat-Yee. I've fallen behind with my regular blogs this summer and I just came across this post.

I think Geek Love is brilliant. I only read it once, and that was a long time ago now, but it has stuck with me over the years.

My guess is that Dunn was satirizing a culture where people go to extremes for fame and fortune. Geek Love strikes me as a book even more relevant now than when it was first published, which in my eyes, makes it great.

I can see how GL isn't for everyone. It's a challenging read, but I think, ultimately a rewarding one.