Scratch, scratchAppreciation of art is so subjective that it boggles my mind when people can make one word assessments of anything that they have seen or heard.
Take fiction, for instance. When you like a piece of writing, say a short story, what aspects to it did you enjoy? Nikhil and I did a little exercise to take some of our favourite short stories and analyse what made them interesting. Most readers like short stories with a twist at the end. Some like the story to have a message of some kind, perhaps with a good dose of emotion. Stories with a clever and novel way of narration, which I couldn't foresee: I like these a lot.
When you go to places that are supposedly the repositories of great short fiction, you are also trying to educate yourself on what the pundits think to be excellent writing in this form. But in many cases, as with award-winning prose, you don't always appreciate what the fuss is all about.
Recently, I've begun to occasionally read stories from The New Yorker. The basic writing quality of the pieces are never in question. But sometimes, you're not so sure about the plot. Take Nawabdin Electrician, about a cheerful handyman who is attacked by a thief. The story seems abbreviated and hence unmemorable. However, Mr. Bones by Paul Theroux, is fairly engaging. Partly autobiographical, it is about a man who suddenly goes off-kilter because he's taking part in a minstrel show. Here again, the story is not of immense proportions, but the uneasy transformation of this repressed man is fascinating, even though brief.