I feel like I'm coming up against a big wall in my reading/viewing/understanding of stories. Here are the facts—draw your own conclusions (as I will attempt to draw mine):
1) I'm reading The Luminaries in the most lackadaisical fashion imaginable. It's just…tedious. I pick it up, and then I put it down. Again and again.
But then, I worry that I'm bringing expectations to it, an awareness that despite its faux-nineteenth-century locutions, it's written by a very young woman, now. And I think: if it were written in the 19th century, would I be more forgiving? Les Miserables was pretty tedious at points, why am I more forgiving towards it? And then I don't know what to think.
2) I watched The Way, Way Back last night and I was so full of hope! A coming-of-age story! I would be charmed! I would wince in recognition! I would shake my head in rueful amusement!
But none of that happened. Instead I winced at the dialogue. At the complacent self-justification of the filmmaker/14-year-old's alter ego. At the depthless performances (except for Toni Collette and Steve Carrell, who were, it must be acknowledge, excellent). It was…not good.
And through all of this I wonder: am I resistant to stories right now? Or am I just reading the wrong stories? Why am I so hard on contemporary artists—heaven knows it's tougher than it looks to create something good, let alone really good.
What does it all mean? And will all these doubts go away once I read something really good?
And why oh why do things that I think are no good get lauded like crazy by contemporary critics, so I end up buying them and getting my heart broken?