Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, Raymond Carver, Anton Chekhov. Names which speak mystery to the reader. Masters at weaving whodonit tales you can't wait to find out the answers. Right...?
Wrong...! At least according to a new study at the University of California in San Diego. Jonathan Leavitt tells BBCNews.com that, contrary to expectations, their tested readers actually enjoyed the novels more when told the answers ahead of time. Why...? "The pleasure readers get from a good story has far more to do with the quality of the writing and the development of the characters than with how it turns out."
Doesn't sound like the way you and I get our daily news. We're not interested in the nuances as much as the results. We want to know how things turn out. Now. Not later in the history books. But wait. Today's news may turn out to be tomorrow's embarrassed corrections. Today's information may turn out to be tomorrow's mis-information. Today's facts may tomorrow be seen for what they really were: opinions.
Ah but tomorrow is such a long way off. Look, if there's anything Americans don't like it's waiting. We're the people who popularized the rocking chair just so we could be on the move even when sitting still. So lets not waste time thinking so much as doing. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood didn't win the West by dawdling their fingers on their triggers.
Presidential politics is very much like that. The first time I voted was in 1952: Adlai Stevenson vs Dwight Eisenhower. The egghead vs the general. Come on folks, we all remember who won. Most voters want their presidents to be smarter than them...but not too smart. Which means most presidents have accommodated us. Either by their native-born, common-touch persona (see Warren Harding, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George Bush II for details); or by their conscious efforts to look that way (see patricians like Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and JFK for details).
As it turns out, we like our leaders to be tie-less, kitchen-table-types like us. And yet, we like them to be so smart they can give us all the answers upfront. Not complicated, bad-news details; just good-news generalities along with a few flashy, quick-payoff policies.
If only it were that simple. We won't really know how this story turns out. Our grandchildren will. In their history books. Until then, lets keep turning the pages and paying close attention to the plot. Because lets face it -- we're in there.
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