People ask me what my favorite movie is, and I say, without reservations, Gladiator. Oh man, there is not one single good thing that happens in that movie to the protagonist. Not one happy thing, except, at the very end, when he dies and meets his family in the Fields of Elysium.
But I digress, for this is not a exposition on a journey to the bleak.
Lately, I have been reading published authors’ websites and essays. Many of it is a cheerful, welcome decent into humble gratefulness. Sometimes, I find playful arrogance, and who could fault anyone for that? Some people have a forward personality, and that is just their style.
Then I come across something that goes beyond arrogance. I see a distinct pretentiousness, which is, without a doubt, cliché. It is not arrogance; it is a lack of empathy—a lack of understanding of the different viewpoint.
So I did an experiment. I’ve read a few of their books, I sought them out. The prose is neigh perfect. The writing on the money, the characters interesting.
The books are mediocre, however, because they have no soul. They talk to me, but they do not engage me. They are hollow and shallow because they are trying to pretend to be something they are very not. I sometimes wonder, for whom did they write these books?
I’ve mentioned this before, here, that I am a greedy reader. I want entertainment and reflection. I want something that challenges me but also engages me. Color me with your reader brush, in the shade of thought. My thoughts. Not yours.
Luckily, I am an older man, and my library has reached critical mass. I can pull out a book that I have not read in almost two decades and go “Oh, yes, that was so good, give me more!”
Am I entertained? Only with a good story with a heart. Only with a good story with a heart.