Trashy Fiction?

19 06 2007

I remember sitting outside of a graduate classroom during my MA year, waiting for the class before us to finish. I was usually there early (alright, always there early). That day there were probably about five or six of us gathered outside. We were doing a course that entailed some contemporary women’s novels of the fantasy or speculative fiction genre. We’d just read one – one that I was particularly fond of – and we began discussing it pre-classroom discussion. One of my fellow students commented on how she didn’t like it because it was clearly cheap. It was the paper quality, the ink that came off on your hands that she seemed to object to. Real literature it seems can’t come in the form of lesser quality paperbacks.

I don’t know why that moment has stayed with me, but every time I start on my summer reading her comments seem to come back to me. I would never make such assumptions myself based on the paper and ink quality, and yet there are certain books which I have a distinct preference for during the summer and which I sometimes refer to as trashy. It’s meant as a term of endearment.

My summer reading includes mysteries. Usually Agatha Christie or in her vein. Big Old Manor mysteries or those set in quaint villages. Recently, however, I’ve been indulging in The Pink Carnation series. I read the first one (which I picked up for .99) and then rushed out to the library for the other two as soon as I had put down the first. I just feel swept away by it and I suppose that’s precisely what summertime reading should do.

I’ve gone through a few summer books and one not so summery book since last posting.   I read Ben Elton’s The First Casualty, which I enjoyed on one level and found troublesome on another.  When doing the research for my MA thesis, I came across a few critics talking about the issue of research in regards to historical fiction and how obvious that research should be in a narrative.  I also dealt a great deal with the myth of WWI.  On both counts I found myself having an issue with The First Casualty.   As a mystery I enjoyed it and I did want to keep reading, but I found the research and the myth too obvious, and the ending just….  well, as I said below, if you have nothing nice to say.

I’m planning to finish the last Carnation book, but I’m not sure where to go after that.  My bookshelves seem to be teeming with “serious” literature that doesn’t seem the least bit appealing.  I feel like getting my hand dirty or should I say “inky.”