A reader after my own heart?

I do not like postmodernism, post apocalyptic settings, postmodern narrators, or magical realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn’t be — basically, gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful —nonfiction only please. I do not like genre mash-ups à la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children’s books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter by shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items  and — I imagine this goes without saying — vampires.

AJFitkryThere is so much that A J Fitkry doesn’t like reading, that it’s hardly surprising his bookstore is failing. Fikry is the cranky owner of Island Books, the only bookstore on Alice Island somewhere in New England, and the central character in Gabrielle Zevin’s novel The Storied Life of A J Fikry.

I’m only on page 40 of the book but I’ve already warmed to this character even if I don’t agree 100% with his list of dislikes.  ‘ll beg to differ with him when he insists that books stay firmly within their genre boundaries. Isn’t it when genres get mixed that we see real creativity? Wouldn’t Great Expectations or Frankenstein be lesser novels if their authors hadn’t broke through the (artificial) boundaries between realism and the Gothic?

But I too have an abhorrence for anything vampirish or post apocalyptic. Nor do I care much for anything written by minor list celebrities like X Factor runners-up. As for magical realism, maybe I just haven’t read the right things but so far I haven’t exactly found it particularly enchanting.

What are your likes – and dislikes? Are you a vampire lover or a magical realism fan?


About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on March 6, 2014, in Book Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. This is in my stack and I’m quite looking forward to it. I’m a moody reader, so anything that doesn’t appeal to me today might well be just the ticket for me next week. A character like this with very strict rules and rigid standards is likely a great one to attract upsets and stresses, so I’m curious to see if his reading taste changes (willingly or reluctantly) by the end of the book.

    • I wish I could say that it stayed at the same level but sadly no. I enjoyed it bit it could have been even better. Will to spoil it for telling you why. You’ll just have to read it for yourself 🙂

  2. I’m with him nearly all the way, except I agree with biblioglobal about Anne of Green Gables, and with you about defying genre boundaries. But I so, so, so agree with him about the no more than 400 pages rule…(except for Dickens, obviously – the exception to every rule!).

  3. Hmm, Fikry and I would not get along at all since I like everything he seems to dislike so much except for the ghostwritten celebrity books, I can agree with him on those. I don’t go in much for romance or crime but I dont hate them. What I don’t like no matter the genre is a book that is formulaic, predictable or obviously emotionally manipulative and poorly written. But give me good writing, modernism, postmodernism, magic realism, fantasy, scifi, a mixed up mash of genre bending and even a good literary vampire novel and I will be a happy reader.

    • I’m with you on the formulaic front and also on being completely turned off by poor writing. I do like mixed up genres just as long as they feature real people

  4. I totally agree with the first and last sentences, but must take issue with a few points in the middle 😉

  5. You’ve made me want to read the book. What a great premise. Why are characters you’d never want to meet in life so intriguing in fiction?

  6. I was completely on board for the first sentence. But then, not liking children’s books?! Especially about orphans?! Unacceptable to this Anne of Green Gables loving reader!

  7. I have never liked the cult of the Vampire but the exception has for me is Elizabeth Kostava’s “The Historian” if you have not read it yet you are in for a treat… even if you are not fond of vampires. I promise you… no word of a lie.

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