Tag Archives: Twilight

In defense of pulp fiction

So lately, it’s come to my attention that there are some serious literature snobs that walk among us. Now I still have all of my English textbooks and reading material from college, but that doesn’t mean that I read Edmund Spenser’s “Faerie Queene” for poops and giggles. I’ll get out my hardcore reading materials sometimes when the mood strikes or when I need to look up a reference, but in general, I read “pulp fiction.” Now I thought I was snobby for still having my lit books, but no, there are people who refuse to read anything but “classics” and nonfiction because pulp fiction books are “beneath” them. I so do not get this attitude.

I’ll keep my argument for pulp fiction short and sweet. Just because most things that a published now aren’t “high brow” doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth reading. They still have similar themes as classics, and they often make allusions to classics. The difference is, they’re more accessible to the general public. And when you’re a writer, you have to ask yourself, is making my message a literary piece of genius and art more important than making that message readable and enjoyable for a larger audience? Honestly, I always veer towards the latter because the purpose of my own writing is to change someone’s life like books changed mine. Even just one person is fine with me. I’m sure the James Joyce is very proud of his “Ulysses,” but most people put it on their shelves to look smart and actually haven’t read it. Hell, I have it on my shelf from my Irish literature class, and I’ll admit right off that it confused the hell out of me and the message wasn’t worth all the digging that it took to get to it, so I switched to SparkNotes a few chapters in. And an entire chapter without punctuation? Oh my god, shoot me now. It was cute for a few pages but after a while I just felt like my brain was melting.

Pulp fiction doesn’t always dumb down messages, it just doesn’t beat you over the head with them like I feel that hardcore literature does. And pulp fiction can open someone’s interest for “higher reading.” I can’t believe that I’m about to defend the Twilight Saga, but I have to admit that it’s done some good for reading in a younger generation. Some of the classics have been redone with Twilight-esque covers and little seals that say “Bella’s Favorite Book” (Wuthering Heights) or “Edward and Bella’s Favorite!” (Romeo and Juliet). Now when I was working at a bookstore, these editions were actually quite a pain in the ass (I hate having identical titles shelved in different sections of the store based on covers or editions; it makes everything so much more complicated). But I can appreciate the fact that maybe Twilight has done something good in terms of getting younger girls to read more classics. 

The point is that pulp fiction has an impact on popular culture which makes it relevant to read. Yes, we should not forget the classics, but unless you’re a lit scholar or professor, reading only the classics greatly hinders your common knowledge. I believe that a healthy dose of both is necessary for a well-rounded individual. Which means that I really have to beef up my nonfiction/classics reading because I generally just read the pulp fiction. I read the newspaper on the Metro ever morning and listen to CNN while I cook dinner; when I sit down to read for myself, I try to escape this world and live in one more fantastic for just a little while. Everyone needs an escape from reality sometimes. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

What I miss most about college

I’ve recently been discussing books with my officemate, and we had a discussion about the film adaptations of the Chronicles of Narnia. She’d only seen the movies, so I began breaking down the books and why they’re better. She let me rant for awhile, but it was obvious that she couldn’t keep up and that she wasn’t really interested. And then I realized, what I miss most about college is talking to educated and engaged minds about the books that I’m passionate about. I miss the structured setting where people have a common group of books to base discussion off of and then people bring further insight and reading material into the conversation as necessary. It’s so difficult to talk to just anyone about books because you might have nothing in common. Of you can’t fully illustrate a brilliant point because your audience hasn’t read one or more of the books that you’re comparing.

What I miss most are my peers. I miss watching “Interview with the Vampire” in Dan’s living room at one in the morning to further prepare for our Screening Fiction class the next day, stopping after every other scene to break down the motifs and compare it to the other clips that we’ve watched in class. I miss writing papers next to classmates T-minus 12 hours before it’s due and being able to engage them in conversation to help ease you through writer’s block. I miss theorizing about our professor’s lives with Rachel up on her roof on sunny spring days.

I miss being challenged to see deeper than the page. And I miss having someone adequate to challenge me.

Are there any other young adult literature enthusiasts that would like to engage in discourse about favorite books? I’m most familiar with the Chronicles of Narnia, His Dark Materials, the Abhorsen trilogy, and The Hunger Games trilogy.  I’ve read much less scholarly YA books as well that I could discuss at length, but I haven’t done much outside research on them. I guess Harry Potter counts too, but I’ve only read them for pleasure, not for analyzation. *sigh* I guess that The Twilight Saga has to count too, but I’m warning you right now that while I admit to reading them several times for pleasure, I WILL rip them to shreds on a literary level. Of course, I’m always up for reading new books to talk about. I’ve heard that Ursela LeGuin’s “Earthsea” series is a must read for someone of my interests.