I have a confession: Fantasy fiction and I don’t jibe.
I’m embarrassed to admit this. I have no doubt whatsoever that there are fantastic fantasy fiction writers and that they have produced amazing work. I wish I did enjoy fantasy fiction. I have friends I highly respect who love the genre. (And it was the most popular type of fiction underway among the NaNoWriMo writers I met.)
I first noticed this tendency around age eight. My elementary school curriculum required me to read The Hobbit. I hated it. The Gollum character captivated me for a moment because Tolkien so vividly drafted the scene in which Bilbo Baggins meets him. I don’t remember a dang thing else about the book.
Since that time, I’ve tried other fantasy classics. For example, I made it through Watership Down, but I got distracted by bunnies as main characters and warrens as settings. Likewise, I’m unable to muster interest in fairies, ogres, elves, trolls, and such. An interior voice says, “It’s an elf, for pete’s sake. An elf.” And why are Welsh and Norse names so common—and Olde-English-ish settings?
I’ve never read any other Tolkien. I never watched any of the Lord of the Rings films—and not only because they’re so long they need intermissions. I have no interest in trying to watch them. (To be honest, the idea of watching a dozen hours of elves and goblins in a made-up world makes me feel slightly hysterical.) I never had an interest in watching any of The Matrix trilogy.
Maybe I could unlock a love for fantasy if I uncovered the reason for the distaste? After all, I love fantastical children’s literature, right?
So I started my pondering there. What I uncovered is that even the fantastical fiction for kids that I loved had human protagonists in a recognizable universe. Odd things may happen to them and sometimes their settings have a few new rules, yet, by and large, they’re people like me in a world like mine experiencing some outlandish moments.
With my favorite fiction, I don’t have to learn an entirely new universe with a completely new set of possible creatures—all of which have their own rules and tendencies and histories. Needing to familiarize myself with an entirely new sphere distracts me from what the author tries to say and the meat of the story. Also, it kills my suspension of disbelief. I can’t immerse.
Tell me a tale. I don’t want charts and maps and tons of backstory just to get into it.
Perhaps this means I have a limited imagination. Perhaps it means I have limited patience.
Are there any genres that you just can’t enjoy, try as you might?