Numb in the Bookstore

Something’s wrong. I went to the Harvard Coop Bookstore and nothing interested me. For the past few years, I’ve found it hard to sit through novels, movies, and TV shows that wallow in the frustration and hopelessness all too common in everyday life. Why slog through hundreds of pages of suffering in the hope of merely restoring the status quo and the end of the book? Seems simpler not to take the journey at all.

Despite my disinterest, I liked movies and TV shows such as The Great Beauty, 20th Century Women, Florence Foster Jenkins, War Dogs, What We Do in the Shadows, The Assets, and Narcos. Some of this has to do with protagonists having at least a fighting chance but I have some other ideas for my fiction likes and dislikes in the following list. This is a personal list of my current preferences. Also, as with all rules about fiction, someone could break every rule, do it well, and write something truly outstanding.

Likes Dislikes
Intriguing mystery Formulaic plot
Sense of wonder Too many defeats
Capable characters Dreariness/ hopelessness/ frustration
Goal that’s bigger than the status quo Abuse of authority
Progress toward that goal Overwhelming corruption
Logical sequence of events Stereotypical characters
Characters I’d want as friends Incompetent characters
Smart, open-minded characters Pettiness
Honest emotions Stupidity
Originality/ surprise Betrayals
Insight “inspiring” stories of sickness and handicaps
Humor/ quirkiness  
Peek into a forbidden world  
For comedy have everyday people in the former.  


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