This weekend I will commence reading The Far Side of the Sky by Daniel Kalla for our January book pick. This book looks interesting, has a great cover, and there should be no reason for even a niggle of dread about reading it. Except…
I am not a lover of historical fiction. Whenever the back of a book begins with, “It was 1910 (or any year before 1990, really) and so and so was fighting against…” I’m out. It’s not that I don’t think history is important, because I do. And it’s not that I don’t think fictional interpretations lend us an important insight into history, because I do. And, I have been wowed when I’ve come upon the occasional smaller or more unique story that someone has tried to tell, such as City of Thieves by David Benioff. So why this aversion to historical fiction in general?
I LOVE Fantasy, Speculative Fiction and Sci Fi. And those are all written in times the author (presumably) has never lived in, so I don’t think it can be about authors lending their voices to times whose truth they didn’t live. I love hearing about where we as human beings might be driven to go in the future, or where we might have gone if we were living in a completely different setting. However, I don’t seem to love hearing about where we have been.
What is my problem with the past?. I’ll be honest and say that some part of me thinks that certain times in history have been fictionalized to death. But, I can’t say that a similar plot line to all the historical fiction novels that are set in a certain era is the reason I dread reading those novels. That would be hypocritical of me, as how many Fantasy stories are a re-telling of an orphaned character who suddenly realizes they are the key to saving the world?
Clearly, my reasons are in no way critical, but psychological. I don’t like feeling helpless. What can I change about the past? Nothing. Sure, Speculative Fiction can often present us with haunting images of our future, but as a warning, as something we can listen to and actively try to change. Futuristic fiction either gives you something to work towards or something to work against. I also genuinely think that people are innately good and, looking back on many moments in history often disproves that kind of thinking. Much of our history involves small acts of kindness and bravery against very large acts of violence and fear.
And I do realize that these are just my tastes, and everyone is entitled to their own, however it bothers me when such a large genre of books remains unread by me 🙂
My apologies, this has been a rambling post wherein I really achieve no answers for myself, aside from the psychological fact that I guess I’m someone who prefers looking forward to looking backward.
- RT @seenandheardyeg: Couldn't get to the blog roundup this week, but I managed a big, fat #yegpodcast roundup: seenandheardyeg.com/2017/06/23/edm… 2 days ago