- darkly playful
- kind of a hassle
- hard on the first read, but rewarding on the second
- indulgent in a good way
- ego centric, but not in a bad way at all
This clicks with two things I've been thinking about this week. One, this post from the OkCupid blog about the "mathematics of beauty." They analyzed a bunch of profiles to see how a member's attractiveness rating correlated with response rates. Did the hottest people always get the most messages? Turns out it's not that simple: Two women with the same average rating will get a different response depending on how much variance there is in their ratings. A 7 who everyone agrees is a 7 doesn't do as well, at least in the world of online dating, as a 7 who some people think is a 10 and a few people think is a 1. So it's better to be polarizing than merely cute.
Two, what is it with students thinking everything's depressing? John is teaching a short story class for ESL students right now, and he's been busting his balls trying to find happy stories at their request. Guess what? There are no happy short stories. The kids always think whatever he brings in is depressing. But that's how literature is! This isn't Everybody Loves Raymond.
There seems to be some grand misconception, along the lines that eating fat will make you fat, that a story or poem with conflict or tension will make you feel conflicted or tense. OK, well, yeah, actually, it should do that! Art should shake you up a little, not just pat you on the head and tell you everything's going to be OK. In any case, I don't believe for a moment that these kids are actually coming away from a book depressed. If it moved them that much, they'd like it. If you're levying "it was depressing" as a complaint, you're probably feeling nothing. But "you gotta say something."
P.S. This is no real critique of the students who read my book; it sounds like a really positive response overall, and pretty much what I would expect. I'm just resistant to the "it's depressing" reaction to literature.