Re: RARA-AVIS: Bruen and the Tinkers

From: Karin Montin (
Date: 19 Mar 2005


This is a good discussion that could go on and on, but it's a little difficult by e-mail -- all this writing is hard work.

I do agree that showing a character's response to pain is a way of developing the character. The debatable part is how it is done.

Why is a scene where someone gets socked in the kisser more acceptable (to me) than one someone's teeth are pulled with pliers? Good question. I can think of two main aspects. First, it's more run of the mill (TV, movies, books) and I'm inured to it. Second, torture is worse than a single punch.

As to whether rapists really commonly pull their victims' teeth -- who knows? The newspapers may leave out such gory details -- and maybe novelists make things up.

You're right that certain books stay with us because of certain scenes, and that can be a good thing. Yet there are a few novels that I truly regret having read, because all I really remember is a horrific bit, not even the author or title.

The kind of violence that bothers each of us most, and how much violence is too much or unnecessary are both highly personal judgments, largely based I suppose on our individual psychology (childhood experience with scalding cocoa, and so on). I just thought it might be worth going into the subject a little. I know I'm not the only one who reads a lot of hardboiled or noir fiction, yet still has reservations about certain depictions of violence.

Clearly novelists write things that by their very nature fall within the realm of what they find acceptable and necessary for their work. But I believe that writers frequently make changes in response to their first readers' reactions, and I don't see why those changes might not include toning down violent scenes. Censorship, self-censorship, self-restraint, editing, writing to market, responding to criticism: aren't these related concepts, not all of them necessarily bad?

In closing, I should reiterate that I liked The Killing of the Tinkers and I realize that the first tooth incident necessitated the other two.

In any case, Al, I always find it enlightening to hear from a writer on the writing process.

An associated question that I keep coming back to is this: why do I read so much crime/mystery fiction, an inherently violent genre? I'm still thinking about it. I'm also thinking of taking a break. I've just got a biography of Oscar Wilde that looks fascinating. Oh wait, I think there's some crime in it.


------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> What would our lives be like without music, dance, and theater? Donate or volunteer in the arts today at Network for Good!

RARA-AVIS home page:
  Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 19 Mar 2005 EST