Recently I heard someone quote a critic who said novels that don't "...deepen the experience of living..." are not worth reading. Snobbish as it may be, that statement rings true for me. Parts of Jaimy Gordon's 2010 novel "The Lord of Misrule" disturbed me and I struggled a bit to understand the milieu depicted, i.e. claims horse racing. But the book did deepen my experience of living. What was the last thing you read that did the same for you?
Although I don't know a single person who faintly resembles the half dozen main characters here, they were vividly drawn, making even repulsive actions wholly plausible. And having finished another novel around the same time with atrocious dialogue, I was also struck by Gordon's near perfect pitch. An unexpected bonus was my recent rudimentary knowledge of horse terminology. Words like "paddock" or "mucking", unfamiliar to me less than two years ago, are now a part of my world as well as the world Gordon skillfully constructs. Finally, building her book on individual horse races struck me as masterful.
Several months ago, based on the cast, I tuned in to a few episodes of the defunct HBO series "Luck". I was hopelessly lost trying to follow the arcane dialogue or understand the character's motivations on that short-lived show, also about claims horse racing. I suspect had I read "The Lord of Misrule" first, I might not have been as quick to harshly judge "Luck". More deepening of the experience of living, no?