I’m reading Treasure Island for A Victorian Celebration and… I don’t like it. I expected a lot of treasure things going on, but it is a story of buccaneers and pirates with a mischievous little boy fooling around (as you can see I’m angry at a book). The only thing that makes the book a little bit more pleasant is Long John Silver (and he is the bad guy). So, I asked myself: what would you like to read right now? And the answer was contemporary literature.
Crime and detective novels, feminist novels, Margaret Atwood, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, English plays from the 20th century, Kate Atkinson, bring it on! I want all these things, I need these books and authors. They make me happy (especially Atwood, I adore her) and they make me think, ponder, reflect on things and, in general, a better reader. For a long time, I took all these authors for granted: I like them so much… how could they deserve as much attention as Dickens or Austen? I thought they did but most people seemed to disagree because their works had not lasted enough to prove they were masterpieces or that they dealt with stuff universal enough to deserve praise. So, after my course on 21st literature this year which as amazing, my opinion about contemporary literature changed. I loved it already, but I had no idea there could be so much behind these wonderful books. Also, I love the idea of the authors being alive, tweeting, sharing information with them, seeing their websites etc. And you can interact with them!
But, one of the things I like the most about contemporary literature and the authors is that they are a real inspiration to me, not only as a reader but as a human being too. They are full-time authors or literature professors, but they work hard and you can see them working hard which is a quality I really appreciate. If you follow Margaret Atwood on twitter you see her wonderful charity work related to birds and supporting other Canadian authors. Eleanor Brown actively supports new writers and talks with her everyday life with her fans (we have had long chats on snow) and even recommended me a great book on writing. How wonderful is this for their readers? I see it as an incredible opportunity to meet the person behind the text, someone who had a normal life but sat down to write and created a work of art that you let into your life and affected you in a positive or negative way. I think it’s truly inspirational.
So, basically I just felt the need to put into words how I am feeling at the moment regarding books and reading. I miss interaction with the authors, I miss knowing that they are somewhere in the world, sitting at their desks, writing or creating something new. I miss the modern treating of universal feelings, the modern and postmodern approaches to life and existence.
With this I’m not saying I do not like classic literature (you all know I love 19th century literature) but, if can call it this way, the epiphany as Joyce would say, of this senior year is that contemporary literature is an opportunity to discover new ways to approach life and the world but also, to meet the people behind them. It’s not only about us and how we relate to their work but also to the chance to interact with the authors and discuss and learn from each other. There are more people out there balancing life and work, having trouble with technology, fighting for literature to regain the power it once enjoyed, people fighting diseases, watching House MD, Grey’s Anatomy or Bones. People who also want to connect with others and are able to do so thanks to their works of art!
Oh, I can’t wait to start one of the many contemporary books I have in my desk, waiting for me! Do you also like exploring contemporary literature? If you do so, what do you think of the authors?