I’ve always read voraciously, but it wasn’t until I discovered writers like Margaret Atwood, Madison Smartt Bell, and Sherman Alexie, that I realized my favorite books were about people rather than plot. Yes, action moves a story forward, but I’ve always been far more interested in how people relate to each other and the circumstances they face.
Unfortunately, the success of even great literary fiction is often cobbled by an unfair assessment that this genre is slow, or even (dare I say it) boring. I hate this stigma. The novels I find the most riveting are often those with the least amount of action. Madison Smartt Bell’s The Color of Night, has about four key “action” points and is otherwise basically a monologue delivered by a very disturbed woman. The beauty of the prose and the brutality of the narrator’s experience left me enthralled and awestruck for days after I closed it.
Certainly, this is a matter of personal taste. People read for different reasons and people find different things enjoyable. To me, reading is socially-accepted voyeurism. Reading allows me to stare inside the minds of people, and answer, even if fictionally, my questions about thoughts, motivation, and the past.
I have been delighted by readers who have offered their thoughts back to me on the fundamental question of the novel—once someone is broken, can they ever be fixed by love? It’s a question I answer pretty definitively in the book, but one I still ponder on my own.
Perhaps I am warped, but, my book aside, any writing that gives me a window into someone struggling with these types of issues is anything but boring to me!
~ Shauna Kelley