Stephen King will get his Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters this week. Time Magazine thinks it’s time we stop with the book snobbery. Do you divide books as either worthy or trashy?
Reading literature and having a damn good time had become quietly but decidedly uncoupled. And yet we think of this state of affairs as normal, and it has left us with a set of perverse biases that persist to this day. We have a high tolerance for boredom and difficulty. We praise rich, complex, lyrical prose, but we don’t really appreciate the pleasures of a well-paced, gracefully structured plot. Or, worse, we appreciate them, but we are embarrassed about it. Somewhere along the line, we learned to associate the deliciousness of a cracking good yarn — that ineffable sense of things falling into place and connecting with one another in an accelerating, exhilarating cascade — with shame, as if literature shouldn’t be this much fun, and if it is, it isn’t literature.