Thursday, November 12, 2009

Context and quality

The other night, I was talking with a lovely poli sci student and wound up bringing up Jumper, which would appear to be three related things:
  1. A 1992 book I greatly enjoyed reading several times 10-15 years ago and classed as an exemplar of the writing craft (though not necessarily the writing art).
  2. A 2008 movie widely reputed to be bad.
  3. A 2007 book written to tie into the screenplay.
I have yet to experience items number 2 and 3, but I wonder: Would, today, I still enjoy item number 1? Would I enjoy it if I encountered it for the first time now? The terrorist-obsessed vigilante might seem much more heavily worn after living through 8 years of terrorism-obsessed politics; the damaged young man struggling to connect with a normal life and normal relationships might not be nearly as sympathetic a character.

And perhaps my standards for the writing craft have changed. I was impressed not with the plots or characterizations of Jumper, but by what I saw as a remarkably smooth flow of words, a mechanically well-put-together piece of fiction. I read 1-2 other books by the same author not long after, and was unimpressed with them. But today, would I apply the same standard? Do I care more or less about the craftsmanship that went into a book - and do I consider the same things good?

I suppose I should re-read it and see what I think of the book now, but re-reading a book is never the same as encountering it for the very first time.

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