Looking Beyond

by Joni Abilene

There was a lot of chatter yesterday over an article which had made the bold claim, ‘literary fiction is terrible,’ and you can read it here. I’m not one to defend these type of intellectual statements as: I am not an intellectual and: I sometimes laugh at my kids’ fart jokes. I’m highly unqualified. I don’t even have one of them MFA thingys. But. Being bored or disillusioned by a huge quantity of work from a culture of many sources, styles, lengths, topics, sexes, ages variants, can not possibly be wrapped up in one defining statement. It just can’t. Literary fiction is not terrible. It is not dead. It is constantly changing. For one thing, literary fiction is not one type, as mentioned above. It has many sub-genres and is an eye to the world we are living in. Reading literary fiction is akin to looking into a mirror. If you are dissatisfied with one, then the whole world must leave you with a dull feeling. Because that’s what it is: an encapsulation of life.

Many activities can be considered boring when compared to their more exciting counterparts in this world. Read or have sex? Read or ride a Harley? Read or insert a Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke? Many people would consider reading the most boring activity on earth. But those people are wrong. Why? Because they are not reading to discover, they don’t know the beauty of a good story and what it means in our culture. Since the time of Greeks we have uncovered the subconscious of humanity through simple storytelling. We not only find humanity, we shape, we mold it through the act of fiction. If there is a repetitive theme, instead of seeing it as boring or hackneyed, see it as one loud voice echoing out one loud truth.

When I was in stuck in those awkward stages of my pre-teens, bra barely filling out with budding breasts and face dotted with zits, I was riding with my Aunt Kathleen to the city, and she asked me what I’d been up to lately. I told her nothing, because everything was boring. “Never say you’re bored!” she chided me. “There’s always something to do!” I felt reprimanded and scalded by her words. But then it sunk in. Boring people see things with bored eyes. Boring people think the world should be constantly stimulating. They are not the curious child looking under rocks, finding earthworms and centipedes. They are not the astrologer looking up to the sky, searching for falling stars. They only see rocks and sky. If you want anything to be exciting, you must be a an explorer. You must be childlike. You must be easily thrilled. You must see beyond and stop asking what a piece can do for you. Instead ask what a piece says about you. About all of us.