“It was boring. My nine year old can write better than that!”
Do you still remain friends? Hopefully the answer is yes, so that the two of you can have lively discussions of what literature is. I tend to think of literature as the crafting of a good story by using language in unique and innovative ways. A great example of this, and also one of my favorite books, is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Sparse and economical in style, bare bones sentences mimic the barren wasteland through which the main characters, referred to as simply the man and the boy, must navigate. In the wake of a cataclysmic event, even names become excess baggage when moving means survival. The subject matter is dark and frightening (a post-apocalyptic world where the good guys are few and the bad guys are cannibals.) However, the narrative and dialogue between father and son is some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read. Or, according to my friend, some of the worst writing she’s ever read.
The Road is a quick and easy read. It’s very cinematic in its set up and imagery. It’s the winner of a Pulitzer Prize and a book that a lot of people think is all hype and utter crap (don’t forget boring.) I recommend The Road every chance I get because it moved me to tears. But I am also fascinated with the “love it or hate it” reaction this book elicits from people. I have yet to find someone who thought the novel was just o.k. I picked up The Road because my husband Michael called it poetry. That was all the endorsement I needed.