Re: RARA-AVIS: Bruen and the Tinkers

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 21 Mar 2005

At 12:19 AM 20/03/2005 +0000, you wrote:

>Never fear. This is my last post on this topic, although if you'd like to
>continue the discussion off-list, I'd be more than happy. I'm afraid I'm
>boring everybody else now.

I don't think the topic becomes tiring, Al, so much as the gratuitous use of the word "gratuitous" to end discussion before it begins, which was, I believe, your original objection.

And may I suggest that depictions of violence should be disturbing to readers.

I don't think it's overuse or familiarity that inures readers to violence. It is, I think, more the depiction of violence without consequence. Fights seem to suggest a few days, hours, moments of recovery and tough guys are back at it. Nobody suffers concussion. Nobody suffers permanent brain damage. Nobody gets arthritis in their hands from throwing punches, unless maybe they're an aging boxer. Nobody ever develops a permanent limp. Can't ever recall reading the hollow thunk I heard when a man was kicked in the head at an actual bar fight, though I confess I may be reading the wrong books. Never heard that sound in a movie either.

People who are shot in movies or books either die (they're known as expendable characters) or spend a few days in recovery. They never spend the rest of their lives in wheelchairs, shitting into plastic bags (Did everyone see the work shitting or should I have written "shitting into fucking plastic bags"?)

People who have their teeth extracted without benefit of anaesthesia stay with us, perhaps because readers are sufficiently shocked to imagine the scene and the consequences for ourselves. That's a good thing in my books. I don't see why readers should feel comfortable with casual violence in books any more than they are in life. Could depictions of casual violence without consequence, the type of thing that does not upset delicate readers, be inaccurate, lacking in vivid detail and plain old bad writing?

Best, Kerry

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