• Member Since 30th Jan, 2013
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Viking ZX

Author of Science-Fiction and Fantasy novels! Oh, and some fanfiction from time to time.

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No, Pulp Doesn’t Mean “Fun” · 8:51pm June 6th

So, I ran across this interesting discussion the other day on a book forum. I’ll give you the cliffnotes version, but essentially, a few people were discussing their reading habits and all started talking about reading for fun versus reading to be … a literary snob? Okay, let’s be honest here, it was kind of a conceited discussion, but there were some assertions made there that really rubbed me wrong, the focal point (and, naturally, the one heading this post) being the idea that “pulp” meant “fun.” And only fun.

No joke, sadly. This was a whole discussion about how occasionally they would read these “pulp” novels that were fun, and ‘Oh, by the way did you read X novel? I thought it would be literary, but it was pretty fun, so definitely pulp.’

Yeah, if your brain skipped a beat on that last line, join the club. But, in truth, there are whole swaths of readers who think this way. A book that is fun, a book that is enjoyed … is “pulp.” Cheap. Disposable. With no redeeming value aside from the “fun” to be had when the pages are turned.

Meanwhile, anything not “pulp,” ie not fun to read is “literary” and of value. Because pain is good, I guess. You’re not really learning if you’re not suffering.

Look, I’ll be blunt. Just because the US education system seems to believe that doesn’t mean that it’s true. And pulp? Pulp does not mean “fun.” If you really think that, you might need to reexamine what you’re reading. But you should definitely reexamine how you think of books.

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Comments ( 1 )

Just because the US education system seems to believe that [pain is good] doesn’t mean that it’s true.

It's a shame, really, that they insist on "teaching" "classics" the way they do. Almost universally failing to show why a work was important or reevaluate whether a so-called classic has held up over the years. For example, what I understand made The Catcher in the Rye so special was that it was one of the first (if not the first) novels to be written in the youth slang of its day. It's also a book that I found utterly awful to try to read, due to the whininess of the protag.

And yeah, I'm also of the opinion that good, worthwhile things don't have to have all fun expunged from them. The abridged version of Les Miserables was easily the most fun book I've been forced to read for school, and it felt like I'd gained from reading it beyond just having a good time.

On mistaking poor communication for cleverness:
Title text: The Fifth panel also applies to postmodernists.

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