For someone who reads a lot, I have a really hard time with so-called “literary” fiction. Snide judgements about definitions aside, I’m much more of an information-centred person, rather than a story-centred person. The snarkier part of me points out that a lot of lit fic is devoid of plot as well, preferring to concentrate on the human condition, whatever that is.
The main reason for my reluctance is that whenever I read such a work (and I do try, periodically), I feel like I’m missing most of it. It’s like there’s a joke that no-one let me in on. Granted, my forays into the formal academic study of literature aren’t extensive, but perhaps there was something in it. High school literature classes left me cold. After close readings of texts I normally felt that either the revealed profundities were less than profound or that they were obvious, that there wasn’t a subtext. Reading other novels as an adult I find myself searching for plot or explicit information, rather than the artistry of it. Implications and subtexts are way beyond my remit it seems.
Perhaps I’m just not wired for it. I’m envious of people who find lit fic rewarding, I wish that pleasure was accessible to me. But I have a fairly literal mind; perhaps I’m unable to dislocate my neural machinery in the right way to handle these kinds of abstractions.
That all probably makes me immensely shallow.