I have a weird habit when reading or watching something for the first time, and I’m not sure if it’s a common reaction to fiction or if it’s just me. So, obviously, I’m going to the Internet to find out.
After I finish a book, even if I’ve disliked some parts of it, even if I can tell there are going to be unfortunate questions bothering me later, there’s a period right after I close the cover where I’m still suspended in the author’s world. Later on, I’ll be able to regard the book’s flaws and judge them, and maybe I’ll decide that it wasn’t worth such a reaction — but that doesn’t lessen the first flush of enjoyment.
(There are a few times when this doesn’t happen, either because I’ve already fallen out of the book or for other reasons I can’t pin down. But that afterglow feeling is frequent enough that I think it’s just part of how my brain’s wired with regard to fiction.)
It’s the same thing with television or movies — after the credits roll, I want a minute or two where I’m still uncritically enjoying what I saw. (Actually, I first noticed this with movies, because many of my friends have the habit of picking something apart while the credits are rolling, and it irritated me to no end.) This has resulted in one or two movie nights that ended up with me trying to defend, something like the third Matrix movie, even though in the morning I’d realize that yes, that one fumbled everything. And I still remember coming home from the theater after seeing The Phantom Menace, trying to justify that it was entertaining, really, and Jar-Jar . . . well, you could just ignore Jar-Jar, right?
You can see why I don’t think this is a good thing. Trying to hold on to that high, that sense of being in another world, can blind me to valid criticisms of the work later on. It’s also a little embarrassing — if a book has a mawkish, incredibly sentimental ending and I’m still reduced to outright sobbing by it (as happened at least once in high school), then that doesn’t speak highly of my taste. And it’s certainly not helpful to be the one person saying “guys, shut up, I liked it!” when my friends are happily analyzing the storyline.
In a broad sense, I think this may be what the creators of those stories intend — for the reader or viewer to be caught up so strongly in the story that they don’t yet see any problem. But it’s also part of the point of fiction in general, and I don’t know if there’s something skewed in how I respond to it.
Does this happen to anyone else? Am I privileging that first reading over later analysis? Or am I just a sucker for fiction?