Re: RARA-AVIS: Surprise Endings

From: Robert Elkin (
Date: 14 Nov 2005

General rule of thumb: If you can actually say what Tony cites below about a genuine piece of literature, you are not somebody who's going to want to "get it." One cannot be offended by literature that's trying to make a point that, if listened to, will improve society. In other words, if you can be offended by the "motherfucker" in Ellroy's books, or by the
"cocksucker" in Deadwood, you've been co-opted by your society's sense of decorum & really have no interest in "literature"--a thing which ALWAYS challenges society's current narrative. As I once overheard someone say about a Chester Himes book--"It's ok, dear, he didn't say motherfucker, he said mother-raper. We can read it." From my Own Anti-Soapbox Dais, Rob

--- Tony Burton <> wrote:

> And I understand and agree with what you say, DJ.
> There were some
> others here who were saying, in effect, "these
> things offend me, so
> I'm not going to read this kind of literature."
> Problematically, the
> kind of story that this list/group deals with, is
> specifically about
> morally reprehensible behavior. I didn't read The
> Confession, and
> probably won't, because I am just too busy these
> days and am therefore
> very selective.
> I think this avian's feather's were ruffled because
> of the "paint with
> a broad brush" view. It's like someone else said,
> denying oneself
> literature from a period of time where (for
> instance) racism and
> classism were considered the norm really cuts out a
> large chunk of
> very good stories.
> So, in essence, you and I don't disagree. I just
> pontificated a
> little too much!
> Tony
> --- In, DJ-Anonyme@w...
> wrote:
> >
> > Tony wrote:
> >
> > "In other words, why is it OK to write about some
> morally offensive
> > behaviors, but not OK to write about others?"
> >
> > Short version, I'd say it's okay to write about
> all of those behaviors.
> > Racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, etc, can be
> as fascinating a
> > subject as murder, corruption, etc; put them all
> together and you've got
> > a book I would read. My problem comes when any
> one of these is
> > unexamined (by the author, it's fine if the
> character is unware f things
> > about him/herself), when a racial slur is overused
> for no reason other
> > than to shock or, worse, without even thinking
> (again, by author, not
> > character). Saying people actually say it isn't
> enough. People say
> > "fuck" all the time, but it can have far more
> effect in a book when used
> > sparingly, with a purpose.
> >
> > As for non-PC language getting more criticism than
> morally reprehensible
> > actions, well, it may be rare to criticize a book
> for including bribery,
> > murder, rape, etc, seldom are those acts included
> without a well thought
> > out reason, and seldom are the most vicious acts
> depicted in a positive
> > way (except when meting out vengeance). In fact,
> wasn't that what the
> > controversy was over The Confession (well, at
> least among those who
> > actually read it before calling for its burning),
> that there wasn't
> > strong authorial disapproval against the main
> character and his actions?
> > Murder is pretty much seen as universally bad in
> crime lit (with a few
> > rare, well rationalized exceptions), but
> gratuitous racial slurs can
> > actually be mistaken as a sign of how edgy a
> writer is.
> >
> > Mark
> >

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