Single positive word to define novels intentionally not "uplifting"
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The entertainment industry is known to favor "uplifting" stories over the alternative, aware that these are the stories that sell. The bigger the "uplift", the less risky the investment for the television, cinema, and publishing conglomerates.
"Uplifting" is a great and positive qualifier that can also be used to define the possible attraction to a particular novel. It's a word that alone can sell.
Yet, many readers prefer stories not constructed with a happy ending in mind. These stories may have a different introspective angle, might purposely end on a sour note, have an abundance of characters without any redeeming features, or any other non-formulaic bent. An example that comes to mind is Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck - certainly not uplifting, but an excellent read. However, coming up with a single positive word that defines the attraction that some of us have towards such novels can be challenging.
Recently, before a live interview on Radio Canada about my recent novel (which is certainly not "uplifting"), the host of the program, one who truly enjoys non-formulaic literature, used the word "refreshing." That is certainly a good one, but it made me wonder what other adjectives could be equally suitable while defining that attraction for the non-conventional.
Rather than running to the thesaurus, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to tap the collective wisdom of the LibraryThing social network and see how avid readers and writers describe their own attraction to such novels.
Please contribute to this post by sharing the words that you believe best describes this attraction.
Michel Bruneau (author of "Shaken Allegiances")
P.S.: Disclosure: While I have posted a similar discussion topic on Amazon.com (and the posting received in response there contained many excellent suggested words that could be used to define novels intentionally not "uplifting"), LibraryThing users have told me (in another post) that they never ever look at the Amazon.com discussions lists ("I will have nothing to do with Amazon" stated one). Therefore, it will be interesting to see the creative responses that will come up here (no peaking/cheating by looking at the Amazon.com post).
Powerful/Strong (both so wonderfully bland, but usually used to convey "you'll like it, but you may not enjoy it")
I definitely second "powerful". Ambiguous enough to cover both upper and downer stories, but still rules out the strictly mediocre.
I write stuff that is purposefully depressing and bleak a lot of the time.
Don't have a single word, but one of my favorite author quotes is Kafka's (to his friend, complaining that he hadn't "enjoyed" the book Kafka had him read) "A good book is an axe for the frozen sea within you."
But then there's just gruesome, like the new one from Alice Sebold.
How about "compelling"?
Author, Underlying Notes
Complicated? Complex? Realistic? Intense?
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