Re: RARA-AVIS: Bruen and the Tinkers

Date: 21 Mar 2005

A couple of comments, not prompted by any one post, but the whole discussion:

Years ago, Rex Miller's Slob was highly recommended to me. I never finished it (which is rare for me). The graphic violence and torture against women did not seem intended to repulse the reader, or even inform a despicable character. Instead, it seemed intended to give the reader a vicarious, pornographic thrill in the misogynistic violence. That's what I found repulsive. I still can't believe Harlan Ellison blurbed it during the same period of time he was writing columns excoriating Brian DePalma for doing the same thing. And it must have been popular, since the Chaingang character was spun off into other works, including, appropriately enough, comic books -- he was such an over-the-top comic book creation anyway, a sick adolescent fantasy.
(Given how much the book repulsed me, I find it a bit surprising that I don't remember any specific images from it, for which I'm thankful.)

On the other hand, the tortures in Derek Raymond's I Was Dora Suarez, among other of his works, is equally graphic. However, there the reader is justly disgusted by the violent acts. So context matters.

And it doesn't even have to be very explicit to shock. Violence that surprises can have great effect. For instance, the death of the Lt. in Naked and the Dead shocked me, and has stayed with me.

As for Al's book, I find it interesting that, a third of the way through it, Kiss Her Goodbye's violence is not that explicit. This is not to say you don't know what's going on, or that it doesn't hit you in the gut (among other places), but that Al skilfully gives the reader just enough for the reader to fill in the rest. For instance, in an earlier post, I mentioned that, in the first few pages, Cooper knocks someone's teeth out with a bat. Looking back, though, I realized it was never stated. Cooper swung a bat into the victim's face and there was a crunch. I supplied the teeth image myself. It could have been a nose, cheek, etc, but since I'm sensitive to dental violence, I filled in the gaps. (For the record, I get the distinct impression that the violence will become more graphic by the end of the book.)

As I said before, our own sensibilities come into play. For instance, I am still haunted by a relatively small scene in Thompson's The Getaway, where Carol briefly gets stuck while trying to sit up in a small cave. It initiated a small case of recurring claustrophobia I hadn't previously known I had.

So, anyone else got any scenes that haunt them?


ps -- how's this for lingering images? I still can't write or say despicable without thinking of Daffy Duck's pronunciation.

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