Over at Ask Eric, Eric Wagner tackles a question posed by Michael Johnson: ""I wonder what you'd say about the role of difficulty in reading books like The Cantos, Finnegans Wake, Ulysses, Zukovsky, Gravity's Rainbow, WSB, The Wasteland, the S-Cat Trilogy, even Illuminatus! (Just today someone on Internet labeled Illuminatus! as 'unreadable.')?"
Eric chews on this, remarking, "I don't think I have a very good answer." But he does pretty well, I think.
I don't have a very good answer either. If a book is too hard, i.e. I can't get much out of it, I don't tend to like it. At the same time, there's no question that my taste in fiction often favors fairly difficult books, i.e. I've always loved Vladimir Nabokov, who isn't exactly a pulp writer, and I love ILLUMINATUS!
I think that part of the answer is that dumb, silly fiction seems flat and lifeless to me, and fiction which is complex seems particularly vivid, as it seems to work for me on more than one level. It is denser with information. I think that's part of what RAW meant, in a quote that Michael includes in his comment on Eric's post, that RAW liked works that were "inexhaustible." He liked books that were so dense with information there was always more to be retrieved.
Michael's question inspired an interesting blog post of his own.