Stories You Miss the Point Of?

“Hills Like White Elephants” is a story a reader can miss the point of, although most don’t. If you have a level of sophistication and perception equal to a pretty good US high school English student you will “get” it. So the author (E. Hemingway) did a good job of calibrating its elusiveness/obscurity to the level of perception of his audience.

Are there stories that are too hard for their audiences that you can think of? “Hills Like White Elephants” plus?

I’m looking for things that fewer people can understand. 5% of the audience, or 1% or .01%. Do they exist?

And are they the product of deliberate design on the part of the writer, or did the writer try to write something as understandable as HLWE but miscalculate?


5 thoughts on “Stories You Miss the Point Of?

  1. “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair. Everyone thought it was about the meatpacking industry but it was actually about socialism. (Not that the meatpacking industry was any summer picnic, but still …)

    • Yes, sorry to see you go, but I understand why you did. Even apart from privacy issues, Facebook can be a time-waster. I’ll be staying on to promote my book in November, but I’m not sure about after that.

  2. Prince of nothing fantasy series by R Scott Bakker. Designed to reach an actual dissenting audience by engaging that audiences beliefs, but the series gets treated as if it endorses what it depicts. Also he just made it super overly complicated with themes – a bit OTT IMO, but hey.

  3. A good amount of Thomas Pynchon’s oeuvre, e.g. portions of ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’. Also, while a perfectly enjoyable book for any competent and well-read reader, Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ has so much going on that most people won’t have any idea of it without a good handbook and a serious edition with footnotes.

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