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Thread: Writers/books you grew into/out of

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    FORT Fogey nausicaa's Avatar
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    Writers/books you grew into/out of

    Iím cleaning out my basement, I see some old boxes containing old books, I start reading said books, and this idea for a thread pops into my head. Hereís the thing: which novelist, dramatist, poet or perhaps a specific work did you initially dislike or undervalue but, upon repeated or close readings, started to like or love? And vice versa? In other words, what did you grow into/out of over the years?

    Hereís my list, going from what appreciated to what depreciated in my eyes-

    1) Austen: I first read P&P in grade 6. And since sheís always been a comfortable old friend, I surprised myself when, several years and many, many readings later, I started unconsciously revising my opinion of her from being this paleolithic but loveable doyenne of romance to someone much more amibivalent and complex. Her novels reflect nothing less.

    2) Emily Dickinson: Because she can so kick Sylvia Plathís ass. Seriously, the only reason why Plath is as famous as she is is because of her near-martyrdom at the womanizing hands of Ted Hughes. Anything she has done Dickinson did better. It just, um, takes time to get past her eccentricities of punctuation and the strangeness of her images and metaphors (but thatís what make them good!)

    3) A lot of the modernists. A lot. Woolf and Yeats come to mind. Makes sense because at first youíre like ďew!Ē at the elitization and obfuscation of all form and meaning, but then youíre like ďohhhÖI get it(sort of)Ē.

    ***
    1) Catcher in the Rye: I hate to say it. Salinger is one of my pet authors, but there ya go. Itís always going to be one of those iconic novels, but Iím afraid its charm diminishes as the reader ages (and for some readers the charm never existed at all, but thatís a different story, one which I conclude with ďIf you hated that book when you were really young, you were probably either a) extremely well-adjusted, or b) not someone Iíd have liked to know anyway.Ē)

    2) Dickens: applies especially to Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and Bleak House. (Does not apply to Great Expectations.) What can I say? The rampant sentimentalism and the lack of an editorís hand get tiring after a while (not that Great Expectations doesnít contain both of those things, but in less measure and alone in other virtues.) At least Dickenís saved from my eternal wrath on account of his being a genius.

    Thatís all for now. Thereís many more, but Iím tired of typing out my half-assed explanations. Letís hear your contributions, Ďkay?
    Last edited by nausicaa; 12-29-2004 at 03:26 PM.

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    CCL
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    Climbing Solsbury Hill CCL's Avatar
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    Well, I, for one, grew into Catcher in the Rye. The first time I read it, at 13, I wanted to thump Holden (he so annoyed me). Cut to two years later and there I am, loving the book I loathed. I don't know how I would feel about it if I re-read it now though.

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    FORT Fogey nausicaa's Avatar
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    I think I read it when I was 14 or 15. It was on the reading lists. So was Lord of the Flies (another novel I haven't had the guts to reread because I'm afraid it'll disappoint me.)

    There are a lot of people who've never liked Catcher to begin with. I mean, with Holden's whingeing and the stream-of-consciousness (which some find affected coming from a middle-aged author.) I think it holds the most appeal when you're deep in the hormonal cesspool of adolescence and when you think everybody (including yourself) is frankly TEH SUCK.

    It does take time to orient yourself to it, though. I mean, some people have similar initial reactions to Hemingway. A lot are shocked that an author that revered could have produced such a canon of literary sedatives (their words, not mine.)

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    FORT Fogey Salome's Avatar
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    I don't think I'm old/mature/literary enough to answer the original question. I first read Catcher in the Rye in 2003. It didn't really affect me, perhaps due to the medication? Plus Holden practically was my ex-boyfriend, so it seemed a little distasteful. (Since the book apparently triggers a "this is my Bible!" reaction in most 17-year-olds, anything less was a disappointment.)

    I, too, thought Austen was frivolous... until I actually read her work, starting with Pride & Prejudice. (Love the mini-series, as well.) Austen's characters and style have a subtle complexity that's mind-blowing, and there's something to be said for stories that can be appreciated on the two levels (and perhaps more).

    Emily Dickinson, Hemingway, Dickens... I really want to get these writers, and I don't.

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    Retired! hepcat's Avatar
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    The only author I can remember loving as a teenager that I don't cotton to anymore is Steven King. Oh, and Anne Rice, but that was her fault - it had nothing to do with my maturity level.

    I loved Jane Eyre when I first read it as a pre-teen...but as an adult, learning about Charlotte Bronte's life, it's depressing to think she expressed her fantasies about her real-life employer this way. It's just sad - the plain Jane, somehow catching the fancy of her beloved without lifting a finger, just by being her. In real life she was just the colorless governess to a happily married man and his family.

    Jane Austen had such a keen eye for social niceties. Usually in her books you laugh and ridicule everyone but the main character (and sometimes the heroine, too). They are not fluffy romances, they are deliciously snarky.
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    s2 and peace dropletsofrain's Avatar
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    well I'm still a teen but right now I'm addicted to John Grisham series. His books are mainly law related and I've only read A Time To Kill, The Client and the Rainmaker.

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    Maine-iac LATAS's Avatar
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    Well, wow, I misjudged this thread, but I'm gonna say it anyway...
    I absolutely loved Laura Ingalls Wilder and Walter Farley as a pre-teen, and I can bet you that if I sat down with any one of those books today (Little House on the Praries series and the Black Stallion series,) I'd love it just as much today.
    So, I'm old, but young at heart.
    Gonna go dig through the basement now....
    (PS, yeah, Lord of the Flies was a great one. I also loved Animal Farm once I was old enough to appreciate it...)
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    FORT Fogey nausicaa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hepcat
    I loved Jane Eyre when I first read it as a pre-teen...but as an adult, learning about Charlotte Bronte's life, it's depressing to think she expressed her fantasies about her real-life employer this way. It's just sad - the plain Jane, somehow catching the fancy of her beloved without lifting a finger, just by being her. In real life she was just the colorless governess to a happily married man and his family.
    I'm not familiar with the biographical details, but yeah...that's pretty sad. I never had much love for Jane anyway (nor Mr. Rochester) - she's as staid as Fanny Price in Mansfield Park (probably Austen's harshest and most moralistic work, and my least favourite.) Anyway, as far as sister acts went, I always thought Emily was far more talented. (Wuthering Heights? GENIUS. It's gothic yet modern and powerful and romantic and presages Virginia Woolf's stuff in a way you wouldn't think possible, considering her life and her era - yeah, I know I'm on an awful tangent...I just love it to pieces. )

    I absolutely loved Laura Ingalls Wilder and Walter Farley as a pre-teen, and I can bet you that if I sat down with any one of those books today (Little House on the Praries series and the Black Stallion series,) I'd love it just as much today.
    Often the books you grow up with are the ones you love best. Their value goes beyond the literary. Mine would be "Anne('with an e!' ) of Green Gables" (even though I slowly grew to hate L.M. Montgomery's "Emily" series almost as much as I love Anne), and Marian L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" and Diana Wyne Jones' "Howl's Moving Castle".

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    FORT Fogey Salome's Avatar
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    Oh my God, I absolutely love(d) Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls Wilder! Let me add The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Little Women, Rebecca of Stoneybrook Farm, Pollyanna, Opal... any of the girly historical novels with imaginative heroines. I guess you do technically grow out of certain books, but your high opinion of them may never change - the sort you want to pass on to your children, should you ever have any.

    I think this is different from say, Catcher in the Rye, which is considered adult literature, not YA. It would therefore be disappointing if your esteem for it fell at the ripe old age of 18. (Of course, you don't have to be a child to appreciate some of the books listed. I imagine I'd still enjoy A Wrinkle in Time if I picked it up today. And, I mean... Harry Potter!)

    Right now, Hamlet is the pinnacle of Shakespeare to me, but I predict this may change with time, as Hamlet is sort of young in spirit. My dad considers King Lear and Richard II Shakespeare's most profound plays, and the reasons are lost on me.

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    Anarchist AJane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hepcat
    The only author I can remember loving as a teenager that I don't cotton to anymore is Steven King. Oh, and Anne Rice, but that was her fault - it had nothing to do with my maturity level.
    I don't read King anymore either, after being monumentally disappointed with Gerald's Game - I thought it was a brilliant premise that he butchered with weak storytelling.

    I do still love Anne Rice's Mayfair witches series, though.

    And I'm the proud owner of L.M. Montgomery's entire Anne and Emily series...in fact, I re-read Rilla of Ingleside just last year. I'm saving those books for my girls to read in a few more years.
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