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Leaffan
09-07-2005, 08:51 PM
I really like to read biographies, news, REAL stories, etc. but have absolutely zero interest in reading fictitious stories, regardless of the author.

In fact, I can't watch most (all!) TV shows for the same reason.

But, if the situation is outlandish enough, like Star Trek, I can suspend my disbelief.

I read "Mutiny on the Bounty" as a kid and loved it. If I'd known it was fiction I wouldn't have given a rats ass.

Am I nuts, or what?

Czarcasm
09-07-2005, 08:52 PM
Have you ever tried books on tape?

Stephe96
09-07-2005, 08:57 PM
I'm with you. Fiction is so boring lately. Give me a non-fiction historical account (In the Heart of the Sea or Devil in the White City, stuff like that) over just about any work of fiction. The more I read the more I realize that you really can't make up stuff that's more suspenseful than, say, Into Thin Air or something.

I have a theory about this, too. I think that for anything to be believable in fiction, it really has to have occured in real life first!

I always think of Susan Smith in this regard. I wouldn't have thought it possible that a mother could strap her two kids in a car and deliberately drown them, but now that it's happened I suppose I could accept something like that in a work of fiction. Or terrorists crashing multiple planes into skyscrapers and the Pentagon? It would've been a bit out there in a work of fiction prior to 9/11...but not anymore.

My two cents.

Leaffan
09-07-2005, 09:07 PM
Or terrorists crashing multiple planes into skyscrapers and the Pentagon? It would've been a bit out there in a work of fiction prior to 9/11...but not anymore.

My two cents.

Hmm... No, my point is that I cannot empathise, sympathise or relate to fictional characters or situations. My mind says "so this is all just made-up bull shit by some 2 bit author and I'm supposed to interpret it as reality?"

Hey, I see where I'm lacking in imagination, I just wonder if I'm alone or not?

And I'll even sign this as Doug....

Revtim
09-07-2005, 09:14 PM
What nearly killed my enjoyment of fiction was taking some fiction writing courses. I could see "the man behind the curtain" too much for a long time. I'm starting to read a bit of fiction again, but it some years.

RealityChuck
09-07-2005, 09:19 PM
I have a theory about this, too. I think that for anything to be believable in fiction, it really has to have occured in real life first! Really? What about Star Wars?

In both posts, this is just an example of lack of imagination and limited point of view. People for hundreds (thousands!) of years have managed to enjoy stories that bore no relation to their own life.

But you can't. :rolleyes:

The problem is that people get so hung up on the "reality" of a situation that they can't just go with it. The key is simply not to worry about the "reality," but to see where the author is taking you. The point of fiction is to reach a deeper understanding of life by telling lies.

It's not hard to suspend your disbelief -- you just have to be willing to do it. It's really not all that hard; the difficult part is not suspending it, since that takes a conscious effort.

Leaffan
09-07-2005, 09:22 PM
Have you ever tried books on tape?

Huh?

OK, I even have this problem with television and movies. I like news programs, documentaries, etc. and have a really hard time watching contrived shows that for all intents and purposes are written to attract a certain demographic audience that is interested in buying the laundry detergent, tampons, beer, cars, and other products advertised.

Stations are in the business to make money. TV shows are designed to attract audiences to the advertisers. Advertisers pass along the costs to consumers.

Buy no-name.

RealityChuck
09-07-2005, 09:25 PM
I always think of Susan Smith in this regard. I wouldn't have thought it possible that a mother could strap her two kids in a car and deliberately drown them, but now that it's happened I suppose I could accept something like that in a work of fiction. .A perfect example of why fiction is important. The Greeks showed "Medea (http://classics.mit.edu/Euripides/medea.html)" doing the same thing almost 2500 years ago. Essentially the same thing (And Susan Smith's case was considerably less interesting). So fiction not only already predicted that it was possible, it showed why it might happen.

Stephe96
09-07-2005, 09:32 PM
Really? What about Star Wars?

In both posts, this is just an example of lack of imagination and limited point of view. People for hundreds (thousands!) of years have managed to enjoy stories that bore no relation to their own life.

But you can't. :rolleyes:

.

I can enjoy fictional movies as much as anyone, including Star Wars (well, not the last three!). But when it comes to reading I personally prefer learning about what has really happened to people in the world who actually existed. I'm really just not that interested in what some author, talented though he or she may be, can "come up with" to happen to invented characters.

Leaffan
09-07-2005, 09:36 PM
I'm really just not that interested in what some author, talented though he or she may be, can "come up with" to happen to invented characters.

Here, here. My point exactly.

Stephe96
09-07-2005, 09:47 PM
Didn't someone once say something like, "Fiction has to obey rules...real life does not?"

KarlGauss
09-07-2005, 09:54 PM
I'm glad I saw this thread because I've often wondered if I'm weird - I read virtually no fiction but thrive on biographies, history, and, of course, physics and cosmology.

Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that the explanation for my lopsided literary tastes is that I really do believe that 'truth is stranger than fiction' (and much more wondrous too).

Stephe96
09-07-2005, 10:05 PM
Take the world of sports, for example. There have been some great fictional sports books and movies over the years, but I'd bet that none of them can compare to the real-life drama of, say, Seabiscuit or Cinderella Man. Again, I'd have to argue that this is because an author of fiction has to follow rules.

Miss Purl McKnittington
09-07-2005, 10:36 PM
Hmm... No, my point is that I cannot empathise, sympathise or relate to fictional characters or situations. My mind says "so this is all just made-up bull shit by some 2 bit author and I'm supposed to interpret it as reality?"

What are some non-fiction books that you've enjoyed reading? Chances are that the author has put some "spin" on the subject matter, which is about the same thing as what good fiction writers do. By selecting what facts to give or how to describe them or limiting themselves to a certain point of view, non-fiction writers are subtly fictionalizing and distancing themselves from the story. You aren't ever going to get the pure and unadulterated truth. Who knows if whatever thing happened the way it's being portrayed? The non-fiction account that you read might be just as much bullshit as a story by Stephen King.

Good writers of all kinds are able to tell a story convincingly and make you care about the characters, whether they're writing fiction or non-fiction. Why should someone care about some guys trapped on a fishing boat during the storm of the century or about some guys who tried to climb Everest but failed? Not many people did, especially, until someone decided to write The Perfect Storm and Into Thin Air. The authors of those books communicated the personalities and tried to make sense of the actions of those people, turning them into characters as the author saw them. Fiction does the same thing. It's just that those characters don't have physical graves.

I don't think you're crazy or lacking imagination, I think you just have trouble suspending your disbelief. Witness your reaction to Mutiny on the Bounty. You thought it was true, and so it was. For the limited time you're reading, those people are real. Why does it matter if they've never actually had flesh?

Does it help you any to know that a lot of fiction is based on things that happen in real life?

To add to RealityChuck's Medea example, there's virtually the same story in La Llorona, a Mexican folk legend that carries a lot of baggage culturally. (Forgive me while I hastily summarize.) La Llorona is the legend of a native woman who fell in love with a Spaniard and was his mistress. She bore him two children and he eventually cast her off when it came time for him to go back home. Thinking that it was the children that drove him off, she killed them, and when he recoiled in horror at what she'd done, she went off and killed herself. La Llorona ("the crying one") then wandered the river that she drowned her children in for all eternity, searching for them. "So the hell what?" you say.

La Llorona is based on the story of La Malinche (http://www.hope.edu/latinamerican/malintzin.html), who was Cortés' mistress/translator/baby-mama in Mexico. She is sometimes called La Chingada ("the fucked one") because her actions are viewed as the betrayal of native Mexican culture -- when she was fucked, so was the culture. There are signficant differences between the two stories (La Malinche didn't kill her mestizo children, for example), but La Llorona and La Malinche are definitely linked together. They, along with the Virgin of Guadelupe, serves as powerful metaphorical symbols and points of identity in Mexican and Chicano literature and culture. "So the hell what?" you say once again.

My point is that literature and history (i.e.: stuff that actually happened) are irretrievably linked together. Half the fun of reading is ferreting out those clues and looking at how the actual event influenced the text. It serves as social commentary, gives historical context, notes things of cultural significance, etc, etc. It's as much about the culture it originated in as it is about telling a story.

The idea that authors just pull stories out of their asses is patently wrong. They aren't just making shit up.

Alan Smithee
09-07-2005, 10:42 PM
What if you don't know whether the story you're reading or watching is fact or fiction? I don't know how fictionalized Seabiscuit and Cinderella Man were. Suppose you didn't either. Would you still enjoy them, or would you just worry about how accurate they are?

On a different note, how interested are you in people? The thing that (good) fiction can do that non-fiction rarely can is put you directly inside someone's head and show you what they're experiencing.

Stephe96
09-07-2005, 10:45 PM
The idea that authors just pull stories out of their asses is patently wrong. They aren't just making shit up.

I agree with this. But if they're not just making it up then they're basing it on reality. For my money, I'd rather read the reality that they're basing the fiction on.

Stephe96
09-07-2005, 10:58 PM
What if you don't know whether the story you're reading or watching is fact or fiction? I don't know how fictionalized Seabiscuit and Cinderella Man were. Suppose you didn't either. Would you still enjoy them, or would you just worry about how accurate they are?

On a different note, how interested are you in people? The thing that (good) fiction can do that non-fiction rarely can is put you directly inside someone's head and show you what they're experiencing.

Good questions. I suppose if I didn't know something like Hoosiers (just to pick a different sports flick) was fiction, then I'd think it was hokey and unbelievable. Things like an unbelievable comeback win can happen in real life, but woe to the fiction author who relies on deus ex machina to end a story.

But I disagree with you about non-fiction being better than fiction at putting me into someone else's head. I'm just starting McCollugh's (sp) 1776 and right away I can feel the danger that Washington et al are feeling from England.

Stephe96
09-07-2005, 11:18 PM
Sorry, that last post ended abruptly. I meant to add that the best historical non-fiction (like 1776) is terrific at putting the reader into the heads of the participants...namely because many of them wrote letters telling us (or, rather, whomever they were writing to) exactly what they were feeling.

For me, this lends that much more drama to what will happen to these "characters," if you will.

Critical1
09-08-2005, 12:29 AM
have you ever read a fiction book thats more than a story?
Herbert (Dune/Dosadi Experiment) writes a story and incorporates about 6 layers of stories, politics, sociological stuff, ecological, and some damn interesting ideas on things all while telling a story.

sounds like you are reading typical crap as opposed to the good stuff but thats just my thoughts. Herbert is probably the best example since hes known for his incredible skill at keeping so many threads all woven together but there are others out there. and its not just a story, the author is putting out ideas, entire philosophies that are interesting in their own right.

Stephe96
09-08-2005, 12:48 AM
have you ever read a fiction book thats more than a story?
Herbert (Dune/Dosadi Experiment) writes a story and incorporates about 6 layers of stories, politics, sociological stuff, ecological, and some damn interesting ideas on things all while telling a story.

sounds like you are reading typical crap as opposed to the good stuff but thats just my thoughts. Herbert is probably the best example since hes known for his incredible skill at keeping so many threads all woven together but there are others out there. and its not just a story, the author is putting out ideas, entire philosophies that are interesting in their own right.

I don't read sci-fi. And I have no problem with an author "putting out ideas," I'd just rather read them directly than have them woven into a fictional story. Also, I don't think David McCollugh or Devil in the White City, for example, is "typical crap." But that's just my opinion.

don't ask
09-08-2005, 01:50 AM
As an aside, Dave Eggers in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius mentions in his introduction, How To Read This Book, that if you are one of those readers who doesn't enjoy non-fiction you should simply pretend that the characters don't exist and that the events never happened.

Personally I will happily read anything that is well written fiction or non-fiction. I often find that non-fiction works are more "tedious" than fiction for several reasons. Many non-fiction writers seem to believe that because the story they are telling is true it is inherently entertaining and because they will only vist the subject matter once they are loathe to leave anything out.

I must add that Into Thin Air and Seabiscuit are books I would recommend to anyone.

Dr. Rieux
09-08-2005, 03:05 AM
No difference--different only in your mind.

Amazon Floozy Goddess
09-08-2005, 03:07 AM
Try tricking yourself. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is a fantastic fiction that reads like an autobiography. In fact, if I hadn't known it was fictional, I would have thought it was completely true to life. Check it out.

DrFidelius
09-08-2005, 07:27 AM
If I recall correctly, the contemporaries of Herodotus were skeptical of the writing of history for edification.

A history could only tell us of what happened; it takes myth or poetry to tell us what it means.

To sound even more condescending, good fiction can illustrate more truths than mere facts can.

(That being said, except for some Carl Hiassen and Corey Doctorow I read this summer, I cannot tell you the last fiction I enjoyed. Most of my recent reading has been of the "a terrible thing happened during the yacht race / fishing trip / naval excercise" genre.)

kittenblue
09-08-2005, 07:51 AM
So I've always wondered, when I hear of fiction avoiders like you, how did you get this way? Were you read to as a child...did you get a story before bed? Do you dream? Many of the fiction-haters I've run across or heard of have a fundamentalist religious background where they have been actively discouraged from enjoying fiction..though if they knew more about writing and religion they'd look a little more sceptically at the Bible...and I ay this as a devout Christian!

CalMeacham
09-08-2005, 08:01 AM
What if you don't know it's fiction? Can you xdistinguish between real accounts and fictional accounts that look real? If so, you can find work vetting books and discovering hoaxes like Clifford Irving's "autobio" of Howard Hughes.


Seriously, can't you simply pretend that a fictional work is juast about someone who might be real?

Trunk
09-08-2005, 08:13 AM
My reading probably consists of

90% newspapers and magazines
5% fiction
5% non-fiction

1) I only have so much time in a day to read and I generally enjoy newspapers and magazines more than fiction.

2) For every 5 works of fiction I start, I probably only finish 1. And then, when I do find something I like, I read it in a couple days so I don't spend much absolute time reading fiction. If I don't like it pretty soon after it starts and find myself wanting to get back to it, I'm not going to spend the time.

When I was in high school and college, I read tons more fiction. I was always looking for something, always had a book with me. Sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, horror, literature, everything. I think it just took more and more to impress me until I was wasting so much time starting books I wouldn't finish.

Also, so much "fiction" nowadays seems to be about some poor Afghani or Bangladeshi or Peruvian who grew up in extraordinary circumstances. And that's the book.

The books that have really captured me over the last few years have been non-fiction but dramatic.

That said, I am currently enjoying the Sin City trades right now though. I borrowed them from a neighbor. And my wife just finished reading Empire Falls which I'm going to try to start tonight. We'll see how it goes.

Leaffan
09-08-2005, 08:17 AM
So I've always wondered, when I hear of fiction avoiders like you, how did you get this way? Were you read to as a child...did you get a story before bed? Do you dream? Many of the fiction-haters I've run across or heard of have a fundamentalist religious background where they have been actively discouraged from enjoying fiction..though if they knew more about writing and religion they'd look a little more sceptically at the Bible...and I ay this as a devout Christian!

Actually I don't remember being read to as a child. Although my childhood was a perfectly happy and "normal" one. I read to my kids though.
I dream very much, thank you.
I am NOT a religious person whatsoever. In fact I am an atheist.

Look at the bible skeptically? You bet!

An Arky
09-08-2005, 08:23 AM
I'm a fiction avoider. I don't like movies, either. I simply don't have that suspension of belief mechanism that allows me to enjoy that sort of thing.

But I can be riveted by a true story. I've read entire non-fiction books in one sitting.

Anaamika
09-08-2005, 08:34 AM
I think you guys are nuts, in a nice way of course. Hating fiction is one of the things on my list of "do not date".

To me, it speaks that your imagination is damaged or lacking. As you say this yourself, I don't think I'm being insulting, and I don't mean to insult by simply stating how I feel.

One of my most visceral requirements in a SO is reading at least some kind of fiction, and not romance novels either. :)

Trunk
09-08-2005, 08:57 AM
I have no idea why people conflate "reading fiction" with "having a good imagination". I think that's a big myth.

If anything, I've noticed the opposite. The most imaginative people I've ever known -- those who "what if" the world, those who really challenge your ideas, those who see things a different way than the norm -- were not those that very often had their noses buried in works of fiction.

GargoyleWB
09-08-2005, 09:24 AM
For the OP...

Does your inability to suspend belief span to other media?

For example, do you find no suspense in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Did you not care about anyone while watching Casablanca? Do you find CNN more suspenseful than Saving Private Ryan? Do you laugh at the absurdity of Python's Holy Grail or do you find it pointless?

What about live theater? Can you enjoy Shakespeare? Cats?

middleman
09-08-2005, 09:38 AM
As I got older, I grew to prefer non-fiction.

I don't share the OP's reason that I can't get involved because some made it up. I don't enjoy it as much because I cannot find the fiction that I enjoy.

I simply ENJOY reading non-fiction more that fiction.

It may have to do with my interests. I enjoy reading/learning about espionage, military legal and political subjects.

Espionage/Military- I'd so much rather read Ghost Wars or The Main Enemy than something by Clancy or some campy Bond inspired novel.

Legal- Why read a formulaic thriller entitled The Brethren by John Grisham (ok, I occasionally still read Grisham because I can finish it in a weekend) when I can read The Brethren, an inside look at the US Supreme Court, by Woodward and Armstrong?

Politics- Most political novels have an idealized president/candidate who always does the "right thing" (read: the author's political preference) and yet bears no burden. In other words, implausible. Why read that when I can read about the Clinton presidency in Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House by John F Harris?

I'd estimate that my non-fiction to fiction ratio is 3 to 1. But I don't object to fiction as a medium. I just like non-fiction BOOKS better.

Leaffan
09-08-2005, 09:49 AM
For the OP...

Does your inability to suspend belief span to other media?

For example, do you find no suspense in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Did you not care about anyone while watching Casablanca? Do you find CNN more suspenseful than Saving Private Ryan? Do you laugh at the absurdity of Python's Holy Grail or do you find it pointless?

What about live theater? Can you enjoy Shakespeare? Cats?

I actually like Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was well done: with a comedic component. Star Wars too, originally, but I haven't watched any of the "new" Star Wars movies.

I didn't like Saving Private Ryan. It wasn't so much a movie, as it was a mockumentary. Why not watch some real WWII clips?

Live Theatre ........ well my experience in live theatre is limited to Les Mis and Tommy. I liked them both. Of course Les Miserable is based upon a true story which I read as a kid. And I'm a huge Who fan, so that's a no-brainer.

Now, Monty Python, I love. In fact I love comedies in general. I guess my problem is watching, and reading, stories that are "supposed" to be real in nature. I can suspend my disbelief for the absurd, but not for the real-life dramas.

Probably doesn't make much sense, but there ya' go. That's me.

middleman
09-08-2005, 10:00 AM
Sounds like your issue is with genres within fiction and not fiction itself.

goitazi
09-08-2005, 10:15 AM
I'd be rather curious as to how you'd react to Dave Eggers' A Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genius, which don't ask mentioned. The novel is essentially an autobigoraphy, except throughout the author repeatedly emphasizes that he has taken liberties with his account, and at times, it's quite obvious that he is descending into wild fantasy. Would you be able to enjoy the work as an unusually written memoir, would you enjoy it until the blatantly fantastical situations arose, or would the air of uncertainty (did this actually happen or not?) pervading the entire work destroy your ability to enjoy it?

I am guessing that your problem is not a lack of imagination, but simply that you seem excessively concerned with plot. Plot is a very basic thing that, outside of the hyper-fantastical (eg. Sci-fi, fantasy, etc.), is not very relevent to the substance of a piece of writing. If you did not know that The Old Man and the Sea, or Catcher In The Rye or The Great Gatsby were fictional, how could you tell? In each case, the reason the works are great comes from the author's abilities to tell the story, and these abilities are equally applicable in works of non-fiction. Hemingway, for instance, worked as a journalist before he wrote fiction. How would The Old Man and the Sea be improved if the narrated events were a real life account retold by Hemingway?

An Arky
09-08-2005, 10:21 AM
I, too, beg to differ with the not reading fiction=lack of imagination. I'm very creative; I write songs and can write a pretty good essay if I sit down to it. I'd say that, being a creative person, I'm more turned off because I can see what's happening on the creative end of things and just go "meh". Been there, done that.

But I don't hate fiction. Good writing is good writing, and I can appreciate that. I just don't pursue it, since the subject matter rarely interests me.

GargoyleWB
09-08-2005, 01:03 PM
I'll say that for me, even though I love crave and devour fiction of all genres with glee, it is rare for me to find anything of high enough quality for me to be immersed in. It is getting increasingly rare that I spend any time reading as a result.

Frank Herbert was mentioned, and Tolkien. Both favorites of mine, but most other fiction or fantasy is either so poorly written or so unimaginative that I can't get past the first chapter.

I get into frequent arguments with my parents, who think The DaVinci Code is high literature, and I think is poorly written drivel. I can't get far enough past the horribly simplistic writing and narrative style of Dan Brown to ever achieve enjoyment or any suspension of disbelief.

So, that said, can the dislike of fiction that th OP and others have simply be very high standards? Can it just be you haven't stumbled across the quality that your brain and imagination requires?

Larry Borgia
09-08-2005, 01:26 PM
I don't think there's anything wrong with disliking fiction. You're into what you're into. I am completely unmoved by visual art. When I look at a Rembrandt or Picasso, I can understand why someone would like it in an abstract, intellectual level, but it doesn't do anything for me personally.

That said, a few words in defense of literature, or at least some reasons why I like lit, and think it's worthwhile.

1.) language One reason I read is just for the pleasure of watching a master of prose riff on the english language. Prose, if done well, can be as beautiful as poetry. At it's best it can make you see the world in a new way. You come on a passage and you say "Yes, I never thought of it like that but that's exactly how it is!"

2.) insight A good fiction writer should have the same insight into human nature as a good psychologist, and can create characters with the same deep individuality as real people. This gives fiction freedom that non-fiction doesn't and shouldn't have. If I'm writing a history of the Titanic I can only go as far into the heads of the people involved as the public record allows. But if I'm writing a novel, I can re-live the disaster as it was experienced by someone living through it. In Lolita Nabokov convincingly takes us into the mind of a narcissistic pedophile. Humbert Humbert is a reprehensible person, but is fascinating to read about. Through him you gain insight into a certain character that you won't gain from reading true crime stories. Updike's character Harry "rabbit" Angstrom takes us through the past few decades of American life in a way that no social history could accomplish.

3.) Escapisim I read Science Fiction not to learn more about the world, but to get away from it for a while. (Though there is a lot of wisdom in the better science fiction books.) Dan Simmons' Hyperion series is a tapestry of marvels that takes me out of the tedium of my own life for a while, and leaves me with a sense of wonder and amazement. YMMV, of course.

Stephe96
09-08-2005, 01:37 PM
I'd be rather curious as to how you'd react to Dave Eggers' A Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genius, which don't ask mentioned. The novel is essentially an autobigoraphy, except throughout the author repeatedly emphasizes that he has taken liberties with his account, and at times, it's quite obvious that he is descending into wild fantasy. ?

I couldn't stand this book. It came highly recommended by an English professor but I could only read about 30 pages before throwing the damn thing across the room. It was way, way, way too annoyingly self-aware and 'cutesy' for my tastes. I don't even think Eggers was able to write the page number without some kind of clever and oh-so-precious comment. I understand the book was a huge hit and plenty of people loved it...but I couldn't take it.

I should point out here, though, that I have no problem at all with books of fiction. I do read them and enjoy them for the most part. And I have no problem with suspension of disbelief when it comes to movies. But when it comes to the written page, I simply prefer non-fiction. But in no way do I consider it a "this or that" type of argument.

BiblioCat
09-08-2005, 01:41 PM
My mind says "so this is all just made-up bull shit ....... and I'm supposed to interpret it as reality?"
I think the problem is here. Yes, it's made-up, but it's not bullshit (depending on your taste in literature, of course ;) ).
And no, you're not exactly supposed to interpret it as reality. As you yourself said before, it's made-up. It's a story that you read and enjoy and then finish.
Like others have said, it involves suspension of disbelief. Or as I take it, a little bit of escapism for however long it takes to read the book. You escape ito that world for a couple of days (an hour at a time or whatever) and just enjoy it for face value. You aren't meant to believe it's reality. It's just a story to read and enjoy.
Just my opinion, of course.

HelloKitty
09-08-2005, 02:44 PM
I have moved more to non-fiction as I get older, and I've not really considered why.

I enjoy movies and shows like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica (the new one, Boston Legal, etc. So it's not a problem of not enjoying fictional stories.

So, just thinking about it now, I tend to prefer visual media that is fictional, and printed media that is non-fiction.

Hmmm, interesting...

I do enjoy the History Channel and Biographies on A&E as well, so there are exceptions to that of course. And I adore books like The Color Purple and To Kill a Mockingbird, etc.

But my tendencies are to grab non-fiction books whenever possible.

Stephe96
09-08-2005, 02:50 PM
So, just thinking about it now, I tend to prefer visual media that is fictional, and printed media that is non-fiction.

.

Exactly.

OtakuLoki
09-08-2005, 04:43 PM
Re the OP.

No, you're not unique. I've met several people who have similar views.

Personally, I don't understand it - I'm with the posters who've pointed out that good fiction always has something to say about human nature, and that Medea predates Susan Smith by a good several years.

Having said that, as long as you don't mind my reading my fiction as well as non-fiction, we're fine. Heck, you read. 'Bout the only people I can't 'get' are non-readers. (I once gave my roommate at the time, a dog-lover, a spare copy of the For Better or For Worse collection of strips about Farley. And was told she didn't like reading. :eek: )

Scott Plaid
09-08-2005, 04:59 PM
My reading probably consists of

90% newspapers and magazines
5% fiction
5% non-fiction
<snip>

That said, I am currently enjoying the Sin City trades right now though. I borrowed them from a neighbor. And my wife just finished reading Empire Falls which I'm going to try to start tonight. We'll see how it goes.Snip. I met you in person. At the time, you didn't seem wacko, but perhaps you (and your wife who designs beautiful jewelry) just concealed it well. :)

Oh, and count me in as being interested in the result of your fiction reading experiment.

furt
09-08-2005, 05:15 PM
I think you guys are nuts, in a nice way of course. Hating fiction is one of the things on my list of "do not date".
...
One of my most visceral requirements in a SO is reading at least some kind of fiction, and not romance novels either. :)How you doing?

One of the first questions I ask women I'm looking at online is what they read.

Dr. Woo
09-08-2005, 05:21 PM
Wow - I thought it was just me!

I'm not interested in most fiction either, in any medium. I don't care for movies (partly that's my inability to sit still and pay attention for longer than 10 seconds) or TV shows or written material that is fictional.

It's weird too, because I've always been a big reader, and included fiction in my interests. It just seems that in the last 10 - 15 years I've become more focused on non-fiction.

I always had lots of reading material of all kinds available to me when I was a kid and enjoyed it all. Maybe it's a midlife crisis or something.

middleman
09-08-2005, 05:23 PM
I have moved more to non-fiction as I get older, and I've not really considered why.


As I said earlier, I have gotten the same way as I have gotten older.

Do you think it is because as we get older, and we've seen so many takes on the same seven stories, that we'll just go for truth.....which I hear is STRANGER than fiction?

SpoilerVirgin
09-08-2005, 07:18 PM
My mind says "so this is all just made-up bull shit ....... and I'm supposed to interpret it as reality?"I think the problem is here. Yes, it's made-up, but it's not bullshit (depending on your taste in literature, of course ;) ).
And no, you're not exactly supposed to interpret it as reality. As you yourself said before, it's made-up. It's a story that you read and enjoy and then finish.
Like others have said, it involves suspension of disbelief. Or as I take it, a little bit of escapism for however long it takes to read the book. You escape ito that world for a couple of days (an hour at a time or whatever) and just enjoy it for face value. You aren't meant to believe it's reality. It's just a story to read and enjoy.
Just my opinion, of course.Not just your opinion, Biblio. The sentence you quoted jumped out at me as well. Leaffan, why would you think that you're supposed to interpret fiction as reality? Fiction is fiction -- by definition it is not reality. That's what I enjoy about it. I'm a great fan of non-fiction, particularly history and biography, but that's the real, nitty-gritty true stuff. I read fiction when I want something more fantastical, or romantic, or exciting, or fun than real life could ever hope to be.

A favorite story of mine involves the first time I ever saw Kenneth Branaugh's film version of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. As I exited the theater, completely captivated (I went back and saw the movie again the next day), I saw two two young teenage girls, each leaving with her own family. One girl complained, "That was so stupid! Everybody was talking to themselves." The other girl said wistfully to her parents, "Why can't real life be like that?"

I read fiction to see what real life could be like. If I want to see what it is like, there's always non-fiction -- or the news.

davenportavenger
09-08-2005, 07:44 PM
I'm just the opposite. I rarely read non-fiction unless it's about a topic I'm obsessed with, and even then, I'd rather read webpages or even watch documentaries (if they exist) about the topic in question. I don't like auto- or biographies unless they're about someone I'm really enraptured with, and even then, it takes longer to read them than fiction and I can't really get into it. I don't know what it is--maybe I just don't like the "expository" feel of most non-fiction. I've read a few "fictionalized" biographies that I liked because they read more like fiction, but a lot of biographies have all these lists and dates and stuff, and that just draws me right out of the book.

I just looked at my 2005 reading list, and so far I've read seven non-fiction books to forty-eight fiction books. Three of them are (auto-)biographies. Different strokes, I guess.

Baldwin
09-08-2005, 09:22 PM
Or terrorists crashing multiple planes into skyscrapers and the Pentagon? It would've been a bit out there in a work of fiction prior to 9/11...but not anymore.It was in a work of fiction prior to 9/11; in fact, it seemed a pretty believable scenario to me (but not to Condoleezza Rice, apparently).

Incidentally, there was in fact a mutiny. On the Bounty.

Note that in fiction, the most important thing is usually not what happens, but why.

delphica
09-08-2005, 10:13 PM
Sorry, that last post ended abruptly. I meant to add that the best historical non-fiction (like 1776) is terrific at putting the reader into the heads of the participants...namely because many of them wrote letters telling us (or, rather, whomever they were writing to) exactly what they were feeling.

For me, this lends that much more drama to what will happen to these "characters," if you will.

This cracked me up -- I am a fan of both fiction and non-fiction reading, but sometimes when reading, say, a book about the Revolutionary War, I find myself thinking "Hmmm, I think I know how this is going to end ..."

Stephe96
09-08-2005, 10:20 PM
This cracked me up -- I am a fan of both fiction and non-fiction reading, but sometimes when reading, say, a book about the Revolutionary War, I find myself thinking "Hmmm, I think I know how this is going to end ..."

Don't tell me! I'm not finished it yet!

Maybe that was a bad example. There are plenty of non-fiction stories (Into Thin Air , for example) where I really don't know who will live or die.

middleman
09-09-2005, 08:48 AM
Don't tell me! I'm not finished it yet!

Maybe that was a bad example. There are plenty of non-fiction stories (Into Thin Air , for example) where I really don't know who will live or die.


George Washington wins.

Balle_M
09-09-2005, 09:14 AM
Put me firmly in the non-fiction camp. Although I enjoy some fiction - Heinlein, Conan Doyle, Wells - I would much rather read about the real accomplishments of real people than what some hack thinks they should be. I mean, what work of fiction could compare to the real drama of say the Apollo XIII mission?

Leaffan
09-09-2005, 09:25 AM
I'm not interested in most fiction either, in any medium. I don't care for movies (partly that's my inability to sit still and pay attention for longer than 10 seconds) or TV shows or written material that is fictional.

Yep. That's me. News is fragmented enough that I can tune in and out when I want to. Most TV shows and movies require way too much devotion of my time. I'd rather read the paper or watch the news than sit through a "reality" TV show or try to follow the plot of just about any movie.

My mind tends to wander while watching movies and I end up not knowing, or caring for that matter, what's going on.

Me watching a movie "Who's that guy again? Oh. And why does he want to kill that other guy? Oh. So why did they go to the warehouse in the first place? And why did that girl with the fake Russian accent empty the jar of scorpions into the laundry hamper. Oh.... I think I'll go read the paper......"

JohnBckWLD
09-09-2005, 09:26 AM
This short NYT essay: Truth Is Stronger Than Fiction (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B03E6D8103CF934A3575BC0A9639C8B63), by Rachael Donadio touches on a lot of the points made by dopers in this thread.

When you 'factor-out' major fiction blockbusters which skew the numbers (i.e. Da Vinci Code)Like painting, the novel isn't dead; it just isn't as central to the culture as it once was...Nonfiction can keep up with the instant messenger culture; fiction takes its own sweet time

JohnBckWLD
09-09-2005, 09:37 AM
WNYC-FM Mp3 link (http://wnyc.vo.llnwd.net/o1/bl/bl082305e.mp3): Discussion with the essayist who wrote the piece above, host Brian Lehrer and DJ/author Jonathan Schwartz.

JRDelirious
09-09-2005, 09:49 PM
Yep. That's me. News is fragmented enough that I can tune in and out when I want to. Most TV shows and movies require way too much devotion of my time. I'd rather read the paper or watch the news than sit through a "reality" TV show or try to follow the plot of just about any movie.

My mind tends to wander while watching movies and I end up not knowing, or caring for that matter, what's going on.

Me watching a movie "Who's that guy again? Oh. And why does he want to kill that other guy? Oh. So why did they go to the warehouse in the first place? And why did that girl with the fake Russian accent empty the jar of scorpions into the laundry hamper. Oh.... I think I'll go read the paper......"

OK, wait, let me see if I get it -- is part of your issue then attention-span related, as in, you feel that since you can devote very little attention at a time, you might as well only use each chance to grab some straight information?

How do you react to a long-format documentary/news-special?

Does the non-fiction you read tend to be weighted towards collections of short-form pieces (e.g. collections of essays) or long-format whole-book treatises?

When you DO read long-format treatises, are they on issues and people to which you already have a certain frame of reference -- or do you find that in NF reading you CAN keep track of who's who and what's the sequence of events?


And count me in with those to whom
My mind says "so this is all just made-up bull shit ....... and I'm supposed to interpret it as reality?" sounds like you've fallen into over-analyzing. You are NOT expected to interpret it as reality. You should not be expected to like it or enjoy it, either, if it just doesn't click with you. But you seem to be misinterpreting the point behind fiction.

delphica
09-09-2005, 10:04 PM
Don't tell me! I'm not finished it yet!

Maybe that was a bad example. There are plenty of non-fiction stories (Into Thin Air , for example) where I really don't know who will live or die.

It was a fine example, although it's funny because to me, that's one of the qualities of good non-fiction ... if the writing is so good that I forget that I know how it ends, and I get the same emotional suspenseful feelings as if it were fiction, then I'm very happy with my choice. A book example is Seabiscuit, and I knew the outcome of just about every race before I read it, and still got so caught up in the match race that I missed my train stop (Run, Seabiscuit, run! Oh wait, was that my outloud voice?), and a movie example is Apollo 13, where I was frenzied with the suspense of whether or not they make it home, and ya know, obviously they do.

Huh, that's weird. My favorite non-fiction reads like fiction, because I "forget" for the moment that I already know the outcome, and my favorite fiction reads like non-fiction, because it feels so real that I believe it could be true.

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