There's another frontier I haven't heard of anyone taking a crack at--an extended narrative about pleasantness. Usually, the complaint if there's no pain for the characters is "nothing happened", which gives an interesting angle on what people think of as a something.
Does anyone know of literature that's tried this?
Afaik, there's pornography where everything that happens pleases the characters, but that tends to be unambitious about prose and not considered literature. If there's anyone reading this who knows somewhat about pornography, could you tell me whether literary pornography tends to be less fun for the characters?
Imho, Heinlein challenged that limit of keeping things pleasant (unsuccessfully, I suppose, since he wanted to please his readers--on the other hand he also wanted their money, and I have no idea whether late Heinlein sold well on momentum or because it actually had a large audience) with his characters from Tertius. What I find more interesting is the extent to which he challenged a real taboo, and I'm not talking about incest. At least Freud put that one on the radar screen. No, I'm talking about endearments. In the real world, people use endearments, and people talk about endearments on line, but Heinlein is the only one I know of who put them into fiction. I don't mind them especially, but they seem to aggravate a lot of readers.
People will say that the particular endearments are awful, but they never have examples of acceptable endearments from fiction, so I think it's a taboo. Maybe it's a taboo with a reason--maybe there's a cross-cultural tendency to keep endearments out of fiction because nobody can stand it.
Oh--I just thought of a counterexample--fiction can include endearments from ridiculous women to small pets. That doesn't count, except to the extent that sometimes you can sneak in a little truth as humor. What I'd be interested in, though, is endearments portrayed as a normal human activity.