RARA-AVIS: Re: Munger on violence

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 01 Sep 2003

>Katy Munger:
> > One of the mystery genre's most annoying pretensions is the current
>> notion that extreme violence is somehow groundbreaking or, even worse,
>> feminist if a female author depicts it. Such passages are usually either
> > boring or offensive...

And they're not made any better by men doing it. Having horrible, upsetting things happen to characters is easy, making us care what happens to the characters is hard.

Violence should matter in a book. Instead what we get far too often is the pornography of violence, nothing more, nothing less. You can dress it up in all sorts of artistic pretensions, but far too much of it seems tailored to guys who read with one hand.

And miker:

>I would deduce from this that extreme violence might be conducive to
>great literature, which seems to always border on being either boring
>or offensive. I prefer offensive, myself.

No doubt. I, too, prefer stuff that pushes the reader, rather than playing it safe. But I'm so bored of extreme violence or anything else that many people find offensive being trotted out merely to be offensive, or to prove how big a set of balls the writer has.

There's nothing particular literary or ground-breaking about gratuitous offensiveness. It's usually the sign of a weak writer, not a strong one. I'd rather a writer try to mess with my head, not my gag reflex.

And in the never-ending quest to nail down definitions, here's a thought: It isn't violence itself that makes a book hard-boiled. It's the attitude towards that violence that makes it hard-boiled.


Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.thrillingdetective.com Five years on... -- # Plain ASCII text only, please. Anything else won't show up. # To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to # majordomo@icomm.ca. This will not work for the digest version. # The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

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