Re: RARA-AVIS: Disturbing Novels

Date: 30 Jun 2008

Keith wrote:

"Let me suggest Duane S's Severance Package."

When I suggested Dave's Fast Lane was disturbing, Keith claimed it wasn't. My turn to return the favor. I didn't find Duane's Severance Package at all disturbing. We both agree these books are great, but disagree on their disturbing quotient.

And this led me to realize that few of us (me included) have explained how or why we find the books we're naming disturbing. And no one except Sandra has really attempted to define disturbing. I like her definition:

". . . what I find truly disturbing in a book is when I can identify with characters in a way that makes me realize there isn't much a line between me and them, and in the same circumstances I might do those same things."

And it's exactly that kind of disturbance that explains a lot of noir's appeal for me. (Saw a lot of that in Robbie's Wife; was I the only one who found echoes of Gil Brewer's 13 French Street?) Hardboiled, especially hardboiled PI, is often fantasy projection for me, but noir can be more of a "there but for the grace of God go I" kind of thing.

It also occurs to me that "disturbing" is a very personal response. Some things are disturbing on a cultural level (crimes against children, for instance), whereas others are more individual. So some of the things in Fast Lane (cryptic to avoid spoiling anything for those who have not yet, but should, read it) disturbed me, but apparently not Keith, and our positions reversed on Severance Package.


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