Sunday, 25 May 2014

A Hopeless Romantic--the perils of enjoying popular fiction.

I was at a friend's house on a trip home a few weekends ago and I picked up a book.  It was a book I had previously criticised and vowed never to read.  Which was ridiculous of me, because I'd read Twilight in the past and been the butt of quite a few of my friends' criticism for doing so and even more so for being open and honest about what I liked.

People didn't accept that I liked it, they didn't listen to my reasons or justifications for doing so.  Which was pretty unfair.  The fact I had to stand up for the fact I liked it, or the fact that eventually I started to hide it, be ashamed of it, was quite hurtful.  Pretty 'accepting' and liberal people actually found pleasure in teasing me about it, they started defining me by it.  The hypocrisy further intensified by the fact that most of them had never even read it.

What I didn't understand were that these were people I truly respected, they were kind and lovely people.  Yet so high and mighty when it came to something they saw as 'beneath them'.   But there's a conclusion I came to in all this.  It doesn't matter what other people think.  They don't have any right to criticise and mock you, especially when they're your friends.

So the fact I should criticise this particular book without reading it, annoyed me.  I so, I picked it up and haven't been able to put it down since.  I decided that this book wasn't as bad as people make out.  Yes, it has its flaws, it's simple, the writing isn't fantastic - but it's fiction, it's escapism. 

It all comes down to this, I am a hopeless romantic.  I love the way the protagonists in the book care about each other.  Yes, it's a bit weird, yes, they're a bit messed up.  But what human being on this planet isn't?  The character transformation is interesting and yes, intriguing.  It isn't real, but I don't expect it to be.

Real life is shitty, it's hard, it's real and it's unfair.  People hurt you, break you, drag you down, berate you.  The fiction in these books provides pure, uncomplicated escapism.  The characters actually fall in love with each other, hopelessly and wonderfully.  But it's a fantasy and what's wrong with a bit of fantasy every now and then.

It brought me down to the decision that irrespective of what everyone else thinks in this world, you have to just enjoy what you enjoy.  You have to try new things and make your own mind up, exclusive of what the world is shouting at you.  Irrespective of public opinion.  People are drawn to criticism.  Finally, ultimately, I read to escape the reality.  I don't care how a book is written, I enjoy different books for different reasons.  There's no shame in that.  I loved the Lord of the Rings, I loved Little Women, I love Peter Pan.  I love Twilight, Moby Dick.  I enjoyed the Godfather. 

I read them all for different reasons.  But sometimes, when you've done a 12 hour shift, you're emotionally drained or someone's broken your heart or hurt you, all you want to do is curl up in bed and read about emotionally flawed but attractive men who are transformed into love struck, hopeless romantics.  Somehow, in some way, it restores my faith in humanity.  It's not real and it has flaws, but it transports you away to another place, for a little while - and that is sanctuary enough.