A Good Ending Is Hard to Find | Roger Thomas | IPNovels.com
I’m going to run a risk and admit something in public that I’ve hitherto just bandied in private conversations. I do this understanding that I may be marched out to the middle of the hollow square and have my Catholic author’s buttons off and my stripes cut away, but that’s the price sometimes. Here’s the admission: I’m not a big fan of what many consider the exemplary Catholic authors of our time, especially Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor, Graham Greene, and Evelyn Waugh.
There. I said it.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate their mastery of style. If I improve my writing for the rest of my life, I might hope to be half the literary artist that O’Connor was, and there’s no question that Greene can bring characters to life. I just don’t like the characters. Or the story lines. Or the outcomes.
I say this knowing that in the eyes of some, this brands me as an immature appreciator of literature, possibly merely a common reader. “Don’t like?” some Clever might sniff. “What kind of plebeian criterion is that? You’re supposed to find literature startling, or challenging, or provocative. It’s supposed to be edgy or tantalizing or shocking. It’s not a matter of how much you like it.” That may be how some people determine what they read, but not me. Though I can take edginess or shock, I’m sure not going to waste precious reading time on something I don’t like. I’ll give any book a chance, but if it doesn’t give me its own reason to keep reading, I’m going to move onto something I enjoy. I’m not going to keep reading a book I don’t like just because someone said I should for some reason – even if it was a Catholic someone, and the reason was that it was “Catholic fiction.”
This especially applies to the characters. No matter how true-to-life, no matter how well-portrayed, if some character is a scumbag who I wouldn’t waste time around, I’m sure not going to waste time reading about how he stumbles around ruining his life and the lives of those around him. Even if the character (or the author) is in some distant way related to Catholicism.
I was gratified to see some agreement on this matter from the insightful and erudite Holly Ordway in a post on the ipnovels.com blog site. ...