Wednesday, September 06, 2006

On why I read mostly SF these days

When I was in high school and college before coming to the USA I used to read a lot of classics, mostly french (Balzac, Mauriac, Malraux, Camus are among the authors I've read and enjoyed many if not most of their novels, alongside Dumas and Rois Maudits who are still among my all time favourites), russian (I've really enjoyed War and Peace and a lot of Tolstoy's short stories/novellas, as well as Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment), romanian (Rebreanu, Camil Petrescu and many others), english/us (I've really enjoyed all of Forsyte Saga about 9 volumes in the translation I had as well, though I never liked Dickens or Hardy) and german (I've read a lot of Thomas Mann for example) as well as sudamerican, italian, spanish, whatever was available.

When I got here the first 2 books I bought with the little money available were Dr. Zhivago and Shogun and then I discovered the joys of public libraries and read and reread quite a lot in my graduate years. Slowly I started reading mostly SF with a sprinkle of F, historical fiction (especially about Rome which still fascintes me) and the occasional mainstream book. I tried to read contemporary classics like P. Roth, Robertson Davies, J. Updike, K. Amis and I really could not since they seemed to me very boring in a way that War and Peace with the description of a dissapeared society is not. Trying to understand why, I realized that overall I like to read INTERESTING books, whatever this means for me at a given moment. The lives of people in suburbia or on college campuses definitely does not qualify.

As mentioned in a previous post I dislike fantastic elements in contemporary life for various reasons, mostly incongruity and inability to suspend disbelief (so no horror for me for example), and I also strongly dislike thrillers because they are very boring and predictable, while mysteries are mostly repetitive though I like the occasional TV series if the actors are right.

Since SF is the main existing interesting literature that's what I read mostly.