I realized the other day, while listening to an episode of This American Life about infidelity, that there are some topics in which I have so little inherent interest that a work focusing on them has to be extraordinarily good, or else largely about something else, to compel my interest.

One of those topics is infidelity. Another is zombies. (Zombies cheating on each other would be my ultimate "bored now.")

Perhaps infidelity doesn't horrify me on the level upon which I need to be horrified. I get the visceral anguish at the idea of being dumped or unloved or supplanted or lied to or infected with an STD, but not the horror solely at the thought of one's lover having sex or an emotional relationship with someone else. When faced with angsty love triangles, I tend to wonder why no one ever raises the possibility of an open relationship or polyamory. And finally, I've never been tempted to cheat myself.

But my lack of caring about infidelity goes beyond an inability to personally relate. I enjoy tons of fiction I don't personally relate to. But infidelity-driven plots nearly always strike me as dull, trivial, unnecessary, irritating, and give me a sense of second-hand embarrassment.

As for zombies, they are gross, rotting, and lack intelligence and personality. The first two actively turn me off, the last one removes the things that interest me in a character. The only zombie stories I've ever enjoyed are ones in which the interest is in the characters fighting or fleeing the zombies, and ones in which the zombies are still intelligent and have personalities. But in those cases, they are barely zombies at all.

I am also suspicious of vampires and faeries, but that's nothing inherent, it's just that they're so often done and so often done unimaginatively. Show me a new or merely extremely well-written take on faeries, vampires, or faepires, and I will happily settle down to read.

Please discuss the subjects and tropes which make you flee in the other direction, whether they're well-executed or not. (Or share my loathing for zombies and cheaters.)
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mme_hardy: White rose (Default)

From: [personal profile] mme_hardy

Did you read Joan Frances Turner's Dust? Because her zombies are both intelligent and unquestionably zombie-ish; it's zombie first-person narration, in fact.

I get that you don't like the trope, which is an excellent reason not to read the book; I'm just wondering if you had.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)

From: [personal profile] mme_hardy

I don't like books where people are mean -- that is, where major characters are cruel in petty, pointless ways. I had a hard time getting through Holes, which I did admire, because of this.

I hate multiple-viewpoint switch-POV-by-chapter books, and have since The Two Towers. Nonetheless, a friend has managed to suck me into Game of Thrones.
sara: S (Default)

From: [personal profile] sara

I will see your distaste for zombies and infidelity and raise you "gratuitous killing of children."
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)

From: [personal profile] snarp

My distaste for zombies (and enemies that cannot be reasoned with in general) isn't much because the members of the horde haven't got personalities, as because I always have this creeping suspicion that the author's writing his/her heroes a waiver for genocide.

I can't stand David Eddings, but he was, at least, straightforward about his narrative preferences. When his protagonists set out to destroy an entire ethnic group, they came right out and said so.

Relatedly, I also hate it when the villain destroys him/herself in some ill-thought-out act of evil, so that the heroes don't have to dirty their hands punishing him/her. This may be a side-effect of my middle-school Anne McCaffrey overdose.
Edited Date: 2011-05-23 09:49 pm (UTC)
dorothean: detail of painting of Gandalf, Frodo, and Gimli at the Gates of Moria, trying to figure out how to open them (Default)

From: [personal profile] dorothean

I can do literary zombies sometimes. I liked how Garth Nix did them in Sabriel (a fantasy novel with necromancy). I have never liked movies with zombies, because I can't stop thinking about whether zombies are supposed to be a stand-in for old people. If they are, that bothers me a lot!

The thing that repels me in the most boring way in books is when a novel is about a writer. This may be because most of the examples I've read of this have been by privileged, white male writers who are using their privileged, white male writer stand-ins to obsess about the sort of privileged, white male concerns that I find irrelevant or nauseating, such as: What if a woman bites off my penis during fellatio? or: Asian women, what are they like?!

John Irving's The World According to Garp is an example of this sort of book.
tessercat: (death AND cake)

From: [personal profile] tessercat

I'm with you on the zombies. They fall into the "can't make it stop moving" category of ugh for me.

Bored of vampires, too -- burnt out on those a couple decades ago, with Tanya Huff's and P.N. Elrod. The only one that has tempted me recently is Peter Watts' Blindsight, but I haven't picked up a copy yet.

Also the infidelity - ho hum. Why don't you try, oh, communicating about needs instead? >.> Yeah.

I have been having a really hard time starting books that are about (stereotypical) straight white males, period. Bouncing off them, really hard lately.
Edited Date: 2011-05-23 11:10 pm (UTC)
em_h: (Default)

From: [personal profile] em_h

Hey, someone else who finds infidelity plots boring! I feel affirmed and supported.

I think I have no *specific* indifference to zombies so much as an indifference to horror genre overall, I think.

Other things that make me run: stereotypical Evil Religion, for obvious reasons (a good serious examination of evil within religious systems, mine own or others, is one thing, but the kneejerk This Is A Religion And Therefore Naturally Oppressive is just lazy and irritating); same for stereotypical Hypocritical Political Activists. So, I guess I don't like people who stereotype me, is what I'm really saying here.

I'm not sure I've ever met a Coming Of Age fiction I really liked, despite the narrative's prevalance and the skill with which it is sometimes done.
grrlpup: (Default)

From: [personal profile] grrlpup

Books with a lot of drinking usually lose me. I've really liked some books about drinking or alcoholism, but the kind of books where characters are at parties drinking, or in domestic situations where drinking is most of what goes on, are soooooo boring. They induce in me a kind of anxiety that is not at all interesting, a constant "where are the car keys... how are you going to get home later" feeling.
snowynight: Kino in a suit with brown background (Default)

From: [personal profile] snowynight

Someone shares my feeling to infidelity!
I avoid books billed as grim dark. If I want something with stone falls everyone dies, I will read the news.
yhlee: Animated icon of sporkiness. (sporks (rilina))

From: [personal profile] yhlee

Love triangles are a hard sell for me. If it's polyamory, that's fine, I'm down. It's the Arthur/Lancelot/Guinevere type setups that drive me up the wall. If I like a story that has that kind of love triangle in it, it's because it does something else so well that I can chalk up the !@#$ love triangle to the cost of doing business. I rarely can deal with infidelity if it's a protagonist doing it because I find it so gut-level loathsome. I regret to say that I find it easier to read about certain classes of fictional murderers than about people who are merrily cheating on their partners.

I often find depictions of musicians/composers a hard sell unless they're written by musicians, but this may be Guy Gavriel Kay's fault because he writes about music so badly. Whenever he goes on about the high ineffable achingness of it all, I want to tell him to shut the f*** up and get over himself and tell me about practical things like whittling down reeds or tuning pegs slipping in cold weather.

I don't run away from zombies, but I generally find them either gross or boring. The thing I really don't get is pirates. I find pirates incredibly boring as a category, and I'm not sure why. You'd think that ship-to-ship combat or whatever would interest me, but it just doesn't.
mildred_of_midgard: (Default)

From: [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard

So bored with adultery, for the same reasons as you. I was listening to a song the other day, and thinking it had so much potential if it weren't nothing more than a cheating song.

"Cowboy pride can always get a man through/But cowboy pride will make a fool of you."

The Iliad managed to be about exactly that in an infinitely more interesting way than singing about a guy who sleeps with a waitress when he's on the road. *yawn*

I find the concept of zombies so unappealing that I've never been inclined to watch or read anything with them, ever.

From: [personal profile] dsgood

I find conmen boring.

I have an increasingly low tolerance for preachiness.
the_future_modernes: (Default)

From: [personal profile] the_future_modernes

Vengeance. Sick and tired of that as a motivation.
Het love stories. No, adding a random romance is REALLY not necessary, especially when its the arrogant guy being an asshole until the lady gives in. Or the "we're gonna get you married for political purposes and to hell with what you want!" trope.
Edited Date: 2011-05-24 06:57 am (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)

From: [personal profile] holyschist

I've been cheated on twice in a poly relationship (where "cheating" = "violating terms of relationship"), and it's...not something that polyamory fixes, nor were my feelings "oh no, my partner had sex/an emotional relationship with someone else." In general, though, for most monogamous people, I don't think suggesting an open/poly relationship can ever be a solution to infidelity, because I don't think most infidelity is motivated by simply wanting to have sex with more people, and I don't think everyone's cut out for nonmonogamy. The only way to infidelityproof one's self is to have no rules or expectations for a relationship, and I don't think that's something most people are capable of, either.

I don't handle infidelity-related plots well; either I want to punch the characters because I over-identify with the cheated-on party or I get upset because the painfulness is written about accurately. Neither is my first choice for fun reading.

Tropes I don't like:

Love triangles. Romance as redemption. Angsty loner bad boys. Most zombies. Most faeries. Most vampires. Werewolves who bear no resemblance whatsoever to wolves. I'm growing more and more tired of urban fantasy heroines who hate their supernatural jobs. Why can't just one LOVE saving Seattle from the forces of evil every year or something?
chalcedony_cat: fan from the v&a (Default)

From: [personal profile] chalcedony_cat

I completely share your loathing for zombies. I cannot understand what it is people like about them. I mean, I get the whole 'metaphor for our fear of the masses/working classes' but, well, they still do nothing for me. I would rather engage with my fear of the masses directly.

Infidelity doesn't do anything for me, but love triangles do when there's societal pressures making things triangular. I'm watching an awesome Chinese drama which has a strong woman character with much agency caught between two guys, who are friends & both being very reasonable about letting her choose, but this is 18th century China and widow remarriage is impossible for her to consider, so when she picks _that's it forever_. And one of them is terminally ill!
skygiants: Rue from Princess Tutu dancing with a raven (belle et la bete)

From: [personal profile] skygiants

Purposeless white dude goes through midlife crisis, has affair! Bonus anti-points for the person he has an affair with being a.) his student b.) twenty years younger than him c.) "exotic" in some way d.) a manic pixie dreamgirl or e.) ALL OF THE ABOVE.

I also find infidelity inherently uninteresting, but I realized last week at the ballet that there is one method and only one that makes it interesting to me and that is . . . interpretive dance. The plot of Jardin aux Lilas should make it intensely boring to me, but all the sneaky dancing where they're constantly whipping around in the middle of their pas de deux and peering into corners and sneakily holding hands with one person while dancing with another person allows for such cool choreography!

From: [identity profile] asakiyume.livejournal.com

I totally agree with you about zombies, on every single point you raise, and have never, ever seen the interest in them. And adultery stories, I can like them if you set it up so that the adultery has consequences (frex, DEATH), but otherwise, I don't like them because they either seem selfish, trivial, or depressing. Or all three.

I love faeries... but mainly only my own faeries. Isn't that terrible? But there you go. On occasion I like other people's fairies (e.g. Perilous Gard, Moorchild), but more often I'm irritated by them. And I'm cross, because faeries are so overdone that I'll probably never get a chance to share mine.

From: [identity profile] woodburner.livejournal.com

Space opera! I am pretty uninterested in books about space in general, unless it's fantastical space. Give me somebody riding a giant butterfly through asteroid belts and I am THERE. Or... riding a train through space, say. (Larklight, ilu.)

Standard robots/mechs. Gundam, yawn. Robots with inexplicable humanoid manifestations and metaphysical and sexual symbolism, I'm there! (Wtf, Melody of Oblivion.) Robots that manifest on another, unexplained plane of existence that are also full of metaphysical and sexual symbolism, I'm there! (Wtf, Star Driver.) But just a bunch of robots fighting each other for some war or whatever? Meh.

I think from this we learn that I only really like sci-fi tropes when they're not... actually... sci-fi.

I also don't like epics that are all about war and politics. (Another reason I don't like Gundam.) I mean, war and politics are fine in stories that are really character focused (and focused on only a few characters, unlike those ridiculously enormous casts), and more about character interaction and COOL STUFF... Like say, Hundred Thousand Kingdoms or Leviathan. But in general, I effing hate war epics. Yawn x39832479827.

I am also uninterested in very nearly every bit of realistic fiction ever.

From: [identity profile] coraa.livejournal.com

I've always subsumed my general boredom and annoyance at infidelity stories under my even larger boredom and annoyance at stories in which middle-aged, middle class, usually white people feel ennui. I just. Not interested. So far from being interested! (I'm also bored by the cheating stories featuring teenagers, but less annoyed, because I am generally more tolerant of people acting like hormonal teenagers if they are in fact hormonal teenagers, and not... forty.)

(I have been listening to This American Life reruns while doing chores, and that was one of the handful where I wound up skipping ahead a lot.)

As for genres that bore me breathless: any military-focused story where I am expected to be enthralled by the military action unto itself. I just don't care about armies as armies. I care about individuals. I can be persuaded to care about cultures, and accordingly the outcome of wars. But battles themselves? I rapidly lose track of what's happening, and then I fall asleep. The kind of milSF in which the joy of it is the detailed depiction of futuristic war is therefore not for me.

From: [identity profile] thecityofdis.livejournal.com

My thoughts on infidelity as a story-line/plot device are, I think, less "bored" and more "antipathy". I am constitutionally incapable of sympathizing with a character who has cheated, and I disassociate myself from the story. So I guess my reaction can manifest as "this is boring" when "EXCUSE ME WTF ARE YOU DOING" is not the most productive reaction - characters in a book or on a tv screen can't hear me, so then I just get miffed with the writers.

I also have approximately zero interest in angels/nephilim/fallen celestial beings. There's one rising YA trend I'm happy to not participate in.

From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com

Related to the adultery thing: conflicts arising from the characters' inability to keep it in their pants. I just don't get the whole "this is a terrible idea and will have terrible consequences but I JUST CAN'T HELP MYSELF" -- my reaction is geez, it's called willpower, go buy some.

This is a large part of why I find Carey's second Kushiel trilogy so much less interesting than the first. I flat-out don't care that Imriel and Sidonie have the hots for each other but politics means they shouldn't be together but they're so overwhelmed with lust that they sneak around doing it anyway. I don't understand that motivation, and have no interest in reading about it.

From: [identity profile] strigine.livejournal.com

I echo your unlove for zombies. They just freak me the hell out to a degree which does not allow for much entertainment factor.

From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com

Humiliation humor. I just couldn't get Office Space or especially Extras--it seemed such a petty, mean, constipated worldview.

From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com

I forgot serial killers. They are not smart, clever, or interesting, if all their time and effort goes into killing people. They are boring, and so is everyone who spends endless time trying to talk about them and get into their heads.

Zombies. Everything about zombies, except maybe jokes.

From: [identity profile] icecreamempress.livejournal.com


I hate everything with angels in it. I don't give a flying cahootie's ass if Your Angels Are Different, they're still angels and I say the hell with them.
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