self-awareness of literature, or i’m a book snob

i just had a mini burst of inspiration for a pair of new story ideas. well, one’s a genuine story idea, the other’s more a potential world-building concept in its initial stages*. anyway, they both were spawned by a current media reference and really got the juices flowing.

however, my story idea immediately began to incorporate contemporary real-world people and things that will be known to most readers, which brings up a question i have touched on in other pieces (primarily in Witness), but have not fully understood/explained/clarified for myself. it’s not the question of including contemporary figures/places (rather than more timeless elements, which might prolong the ‘readability’ of a story), but the question of how self-aware books can be.

it’s extraordinarily rare to see a book (or movie) reference another contemporary book or movie. this makes sense for not ‘dating’ a piece of work, but it also generally leaves me, as an audience member, feeling like the story, no matter how ‘realistic’, is actually happening in a bubble.** the people i interact with on a regular basis often use references, direct or indirect, to popular culture. this is part of our shared experience*** and that tends to be what i feel is missing in many stories. characters often work in a vacuum that rules out the unwanted, unexpected, totally human interruptions.

of course, fiction is fiction. it’s not real life. but the less ‘real’ a piece is, the less deeply engaged i become in it.

hm. perhaps that’s the issue. i read fiction, usually, to be immersed in an experience, and the less of these real world things that exist in a story, the less engaged i am.

i suppose that makes me a book snob. well, that just sucks to realize.

i can hear my wife laughing already.

* great. like i need another expansive storyline to get swallowed up in.

** this is similar to my thoughts on the families of characters in media. very rarely do we see people calling home or visiting parents or siblings, and all but never do we see more extended families, except during specific holiday scenes. but this is another topic for another day.

*** and for right now i’m ignoring the consideration of whether it is a good or bad thing that our shared experience so often comes from media.


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