My daughter commented at dinner the other night after I enthusiastically devoured a superb Pulled Pork Sandwich, that, “Because you like pulled-pork so much, you’re NEVER going to say that it’s not good!” I looked at her, thinking, yup, she’s probably right. Since I love love love this particular food, it’s more likely that I would enjoy it as a meal option than some other choices (such as pickled herrings over a green salad.) However, thinking further, I replied, “Hmmm, just because I love pulled pork doesn’t mean that I can’t tell a good pulled pork from a badly done one, or from an excellent one. In fact, because I AM a pulled pork expert (consuming, not making) I probably am more sensitive to tiny differences in quality from one pulled pork to the next.”
Then we went on and talked about my taste and ability to tell a good fantasy novel from a poorly constructed one. And, how, reading is like eating: to a more practiced and sensitive palate, small alterations in ingredients and textures could make a huge difference in my level of enjoyment. Spaghetti must be cooked al dente in my household — slightly firmer or one degree limper both result in less enjoyment. That’s why we guard the pot and test the noodle and quickly drain the water and serve when it’s “just right.” I know, it’s a curse! But, a bliss as well, when everything is “just right” or when something exceeds expectation. Like the superb pulled pork from a grocery delivery service: all prepared and ready to serve (after a couple of minutes in the microwave!)
So, this is my pulled pork theory: just because I like a particular kind of books doesn’t make me blind to the differences in quality from one offering to the next (the opposite probably applies.) And, it is important, for my professional life, to widely sample different kinds of writings and styles, all sorts of genres and formulas, so when it comes to discerning the poorly done, the mundane, and the divine, I can make well-informed and balanced judgments.