The most recent Literary Blog Hop over at The Blue Bookcase asks:
Must all literary writing be difficult? Can you think of examples of literary writing that are not difficult?
I don't think all literary writing is difficult, or that it should aspire to be difficult. And I'm inclined to think that someone who does think it's all impossibly hard has a very specific definition of literary writing. Many of the 'hard' books tend to be written in a style that is less accessible (and therefore disconcerting). For instance, I found The Sound and the Fury to be very difficult when I read it in high school, but other literary novels with similar themes aren't difficult at all. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one I would definitely put in the 'literary' category, and like The Sound and the Fury, it has a narrator whose perspective can be confusing. Yet it isn't a tough read at all. It even has pictures!
And, of course, books can be difficult for various reasons. I didn't find Jane Eyre a hard book to read stylistically, but it was hard for me to stomach Rochester for more than three scenes. Catch-22 is a very tricky book to figure out, but once you stop trying to put things in order and just sink into the humor, it's such a great read. And, of course, some of my most difficult reading moments come not from an unusual style or narration but from reading about characters I love suffering. (The Outlander series comes to mind; what horrible things haven't happened to those characters?)
Sometimes I think the 'literary' label is completely arbitrary, so I try not to get too worried about it. If the book is too tough, put it down for a while. Or just lie and say you finished it.
(I didn't mean that. Really, you shouldn't lie. I never do.)