Banal bad fiction.. It feels so good!

December 8, 2008

I have been reading trash lately.  And I love it.  It’s not new, I was reading Enid Blyton, Dorita Fairlie Bruce and Noel Streatfeild for so long that I used to pretend that I was doing a children’s literature project when actually I just loved those predicatable plots, relentless school girl dramas and improbable adventures.

It is a sneaky joy reading junk – I have lots of degrees, a couple in literature, and I really should know better.

But the other day I was reading this particularly bad book (which I won’t name because someone must love it) and thinking about how naff it was, how awkward the characters were and how it didn’t go anywhere or say anything.  What struck me was that life is actually like that- it’s gawky, a bit unsettled but not in the styley modern way that Don DeLilo protrays, nor in the un-understood way of Janet Frame.  Life is just a bit dicky, it doesn’t quite fit and it works out mildly different to how you expect it will.

Other secret pleasures have been Dinner Doesn’t Matter and The White Elephant by Mary Scott.  Scott’s characterisation is charming and I am a sucker for tangible people in novels.

This extract did make me scream though – rather bold for NZ in 1959

“‘A good show altogether’ said a masculine young woman  to her friend.  ‘I liked that pretty girl, though she was a bit clueless at times, and the little one who seemed to live in the kitchens really cooked quite well”…  “Well her meals were what mattered” her practical friend replied. (p. 71)

And my final confession – Ngaio Marsh – murder mysteries, gentry, colonial flavour – who could ask for more?


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