Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Levels of like

(This started out as a reply to comment's from yesterday's post, but it got so long I decided to turn it into its own post. Go read the comments, then come back here for Part Two. Go on. We'll wait.)

I didn't mean to imply that "really enjoyed" is a lukewarm response. When I say I "really enjoyed" a book, it means just that. I couldn't put it down, or it made me laugh/cry/love the characters, etc. But I didn't necessarily admire it. I didn't put it down and think, "Wow, I hope someday I can write that well."

See, in my mind, there's a four-box matrix. Let's take music, for example.

Box 1: bands I enjoy but don't admire, the "guilty pleasures" (e.g., Ace of Base--I could listen to their infectious electronic pop for hours). They make my heart happy, even as my head is thinking, "This is crap."

Box 2: bands I admire but don't enjoy (Pearl Jam, Steely Dan, the Beatles). Good for the head but do nothing for my gut. They don't touch me.

Box 3: bands I admire AND enjoy (excruciatingly long list including Nirvana, the Doors, the Rolling Stones, Tori Amos, and so on). These are the bands I "love." They appeal to my heart/gut and my head.

Box 4: bands I neither admire nor enjoy (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boston, and every hair metal band that ever existed). They do really nasty things to my gut and head, things that require large doses of Maalox and Excedrin.

I could do the same with movies and books, but you get the point.

I can see why some people would love Bad Company because it fits with their tastes and the way they think a book should be written, as well as being enjoyable. Based on my agent's favorite authors, this fits her preferences, so I don't think her profession of love is hyperbole. She doesn't love everything I've written.

I can see how most people would merely "really enjoy" it--hey, it's not great literature by any means, and neither is it an emotional gut-wrencher. People who prefer Umberto Eco or Nora Roberts would probably still get a kick out of it, but it wouldn't touch them at the deepest level of heart or mind.

And I can see how some people would totally hate it. It's not for people who like their vampires all dreamy and romantic and tuxedo-wearing, or for people who like their heroines innocent and pure. Believe me, there are plenty of books for those people.

Getting back to the original point, I do take "really enjoyed it" as a wonderful compliment. But it's hard to come down from the reaction to Requiem for the Devil, which seems to make some people (a solid percentage of the roughly 1,000 people who have read it) swoon and gush and pronounce breathlessly that it's the Best Book Evaaaah.

I'm a much better writer now than I was when I wrote Requiem, but how does one top a love story involving the second most powerful being in the universe? It doesn't get any bigger than that.

Well, it does, but I think The DaVinci Code already covered that territory.



When I say I really like a book it's because I REALLY like the book. I really like Goddess By Mistake by P.C. Cast. I like it to the point that I have re-read that book so many times I have lost count. If a book is just mediocre to me I'll say it was o.k. and that's it.

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 4/18/2006 10:52 AM

"Really like" is probably my biggest category of book. I "love" about ten percent of them. If I don't at least really like it, I stop reading. Life's too short for mediocre entertainment.

Lately I've been reading books that are merely OK at the beginning but I end up really liking them because they improve as the story goes on. But for me to love it, it has to have me from hello. ;-)

I wish I had Cast's original GBM, but it's out of print. The revised version will be out in September from Luna (Divine by Mistake), and I'll definitely read it.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 4/18/2006 11:06 AM

You can still get the originals through ebay. That's how I got it. But I am really looking forward to Luna's reprint and finally to the sequel that I have been waiting years for in December.:-)

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 4/19/2006 1:58 AM

The DaVinci Code covered that territory in the way a discount orange shag carpet covered 1970s family room floors. I don't know if that metaphor withstands scrutiny but I am sticking with it. Or is it a simile?

Posted by: Blogger Dave S. at 4/20/2006 3:54 PM

I think a simile is a type of metaphor, so either way, you're covered!


Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 4/20/2006 4:05 PM

So similes are to metaphors what squares are to rectangles?

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 4/21/2006 12:02 PM

Similes are to metaphors what analogies are to comparisons.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 5/05/2006 4:51 PM

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