Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm not going *there*

Browsing in a bookstore with my lurky friend the other day, I picked up a book (I can't even remember which one) and recommended it to her. "Oh!" I said, "This one's good."

She scanned the jacket flap and placed it back on the shelf. "Nope. Can't read it. I don't do dead babies."

Hmm. I get that. Although dead babies are okay by me (in FICTION. Fiction!) as with all sorts of violent acts. Rapes, murders, beheadings (I'm looking at you, Anne Boleyn) -- all good. It's not like I seek out gore, but I can deal with it. I read a lot of Joyce Carol Oates, so yeah. She goes there.

Still, there are probably some places where JCO won't go. I don't know this for certain. It's not like we're buds. But I can imagine. Even I, reader of savage and dispicable acts, have my limits.

Here's one: I don't do 9/11. I'm sure there are a great many wonderful books written about the human drama in the aftermath, but...no. Uh-uh. It's still too raw, and frankly, I don't think I'll ever be able to go there. While I didn't personally see the towers go down (I live uptown), just living in the city in the weeks that followed was quite enough for me, thanks. No need to revisit.

My youngest daughter likes animal books, but she doesn't do dead dogs. No Old Yeller, no Where the Red Fern Grows. Nosireebob. Dead people? Sure! Just not dogs.

How about you? Where won't you go?

33 comments:

Linda G. said...

I'm with your daughter. I can handle dead people, but not dead dogs.

(What is it with dead dogs, anyway? So many books where the dog dies! Give me a break.)

Indigo said...

I can do torturing people, torturing animals forget about it. What does that say about me? I'm an animal lover through and through. (Hugs)Indigo

Natasha Fondren said...

I can't do Lolita. I've read the first paragraph, and I want to weep, because I think it's the most beautiful, lyrical writing I've ever read or heard, but no. Can't do it. I understand about the ending and stuff, but no.

Your poor daughter. Won't she be forced to read those two in fifth grade? We were. And we had to watch the movies, too. :-( I did love them, but I don't think I could stomach reading them again.

Beth said...

I will go anywhere.

Rapes, incest, that sort of thing can really make my stomach churn, but I have always been a person who likes to push myself when I read, and learn and experience things I never would have known before.

Tavia said...

I can't do human violence... I'm OK with vampires and werewolves being violent, but not like general people being violent to people.

also, shame. i can't sit through shame. especially rape shame. it just makes me uncomfortable and unlike TV i have to actively move through it.

Lisa Marie Miles said...

I try not to read anything too scary since I do most of my reading before bed. I also can't handle a book that's really sad. I end up feeling sad and depressed.

Kristina said...

I'm with your West Side Lurker. Violence and death against children or even serious jeopardy, I can't take it, even fictionally. Despite all the recommendations I have not yet been able to bring myself to read The Lovely Bones, for example. I'm terrific at suspending my disbelief which makes me a great audience, but this also means certain books and topics reduce me to quivering.

I don't think this is a permanent affliction in my case. But for now...

JLC said...

I just don't do that whole, "Coping with a tragedy" thing. -ugh- As you can imagine, I skip the Lifetime channel on TV.

Life is filled with tragedies and hurdles that we all have to contend with in one form or another. I read to escape it, not wallow in it.

(I am also not a fan of freaky horror. I'll read Bram Stoker, but not Stephen King.)

WendyCinNYC said...

Linda--I know! *Especially* in middle grade books. Dead dogs everywhere!

Indigo--Well, I have to say, I don't have a great interest in animal-torture books. Those aren't exactly the makings of a beach read.

Natasha--I liked Lolita, but yes, it has a high squick factor.

Beth--There's only been one book I wasn't able to finish because of the violence. American Psycho.

WendyCinNYC said...

Tavia--Shame is tough! I can't stand watching it on TV. I have to change the channel and come back when the scene is over.

Lisa Marie--Books I read often end up in my dreams, so I get what you are saying.

Kristina--The Lovely Bones was great, but my husband HATED it. Same reason.


JLC--So I take it you don't read a lot of Jodi Picoult? ;)

Tawna Fenske said...

I can handle torture, rape, murder, incest...pretty much the worst of the worst in fiction.

But I can't read anything in which an animal is hurt, maimed, killed, or sad. I've tried six times to read Garth Stein's THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, but I start sobbing after the first paragraph and don't stop until I put the book down somewhere around page 7 or 8. I once had to injure a dog in a novel I was writing, and I couldn't rest until I made sure the dog was safe and sound.

Tawna

MeAgain said...

I read Anne Rice, Patricia Cornwell, Michael Creighton, Tom Clancy, Judy Blume (don't mock unless you've read the hotness that is "Wifey")

I have not discovered a place I will not go in reading. Though I will watch NO horror on TV or in Movies. Go figure...

Anne Skalitza (aka "stormie") said...

I have a lot of trouble with books where a child or children die.

Kate Hart said...

Clowns. No clowns.

Just kidding. (sort of.) I can't do missing or murdered children. It's just too close to my worst fears.

Rebecca said...

The only book I've ever had to put down because of a scene I couldn't read was a very graphic, violent rape scene. I'm generally ok reading violence, but this one was so graphic and horrible that I just couldn't take it. I think you can get across the horror (especially to a women audience) without going so far into the details.

Other than that one scene I've never had to put a book down because I couldn't read the content.

Shannon said...

I've grown less tolerant over the years. I don't like to read about rape (I just stopped rereading The Stars My Destination due to a rather innocuous rape scene), children in jeopardy (particularly if it's just to play on my emotions), and animal snuff (ditto the emotions). Also, I insist that an author use quotation marks. Unless you're Cormac McCarthy. He gets a pass on all of the above.

sue laybourn said...

I can't bear books where bad things happen to children or animals. I used to love Stephen King's 'Pet Semetary' until my son was born. Now I can't bring myself to pick it up.
I don't like books about torture and those with unnecessary violence. I get the impression, sometimes, that writers throw stuff like that in books for shock value rather than to advance the plot.

Uriah said...

The scariest book I've ever read was 1984. I didn't sleep for days because it terrified me that bad. So, anything along those lines, or anything Apocolyptic. There's these great couple of books by Edward Lee all about hell and the tortures the souls go through there with rape (by penises covered in rusty nails), cannibalism, incest, etc, and I found them hysterical. I guess I have strange limits.

Debra L. Schubert said...

The Holocaust. Can't watch or read anything about it. When I have in the past, I'm instantly a puddle on the floor. I also can't handle anything about animals being hurt. Weird thing is, I love true crime. Ann Rule is one of my favorite authors. Strange, huh?

JLC said...

Wendy - I cringe when I read her book sleeves. -blech

Jaleh D said...

I don't do graphic violence or horror. No Stephen King. No slasher movies. And no kids dying suddenly at the end. (Bridge to Terebithia and that one where the boy dies of a bee sting both made me mad.)

Zombies=blegh, though I've been making more exceptions since I started writing a zombie story of my own. The amount of relative gore is a key factor. Humor helps.(Probably why I like Zombieland. And Zombie Haiku.)

WendyCinNYC said...

Tawna--I can't get past the first chapter of that book! Too sad.

MeAgain--I used to be able to watch horror movies, but now I seem to have lost interest.

Stormie--Apparently my friend isn't alone in her No Dead Babies mantra.

Kate--Clowns. Yick. No.

Rebecca--Interesting, do you remember which book?

Shannon--Yes, Cormac McCarthy gets a pass on quotation marks. I think it worked for that particular novel. Many disagree, though.

WendyCinNYC said...

Sue--I think that's probably the case sometimes, but others, I think facing awfulness head-on is the better choice.

Uriah--Yikes! That sounds fun.

Debra--I visited Auschwitz years ago and it was probably THE most powerful experience in my life. It left me depressed for weeks.

Jaleh--Violence, no. Brain-eating zombies, yes. Check. ;)

Frances said...

Books with lots of violence, graphic detail or tragic events, make me feel that the author is manipulating my emotions.
And, I don't like that.
I've given them up.

Cynthia Reese said...

After I adopted The Kiddo, my tolerance for any plot line with a child in peril went down to near zero.

And animals -- there was this great book that I started listening to on an audio CD, from the perspective of the family dog, and it got to the line that said, "This is the day that I will die."

I popped that sucker out of the CD player and took it right back to my library.

Shadow Ferret said...

No dogs. Can't say I've ever read anything with Dead Babies except the lyrics to the Alice Cooper song, but I don't like violence aimed at children. Dogs and children are helpless. Don't like that.

And I don't like hand or finger mutilation. I think because, as a write, I depend on my hands.

Melanie Avila said...

I never really thought about it before, but there isn't a certain topic that I won't read. Some doesn't interest me, but I don't avoid it because it squicks me out.

jubi2U said...

Haven't been able to read vampire or romance books. They freak me out!

WendyCinNYC said...

Frances--Valid point. Thanks for visiting!

Cynthia--Yeah, not a promising start if you hate dead animal stories.

Shadow Ferret--I'm reading a book now with a dead baby! The MC lost her child and then started an adoption agency.

Melanie--You're tough! But I knew that already. ;)

jubi2U--I would avoid the YA section at the bookstore in that case. Vampires everywhere!

Lisa said...

I can't do animal violence of any kind. And though I can read human violence, there are some books that stopped me dead in my tracks: Lolita and The Wasp Factory immediately come to mind. Abuse to the elderly makes me skim over the words as well.

Ms. Givens said...

I wont do horror stories or The Notebook.

Nights Splendour said...

Ah.."Old Yeller" I loved that book and "The Yearling."

I can not read books where characters are fighting cancer. My sister has fought it twice and when I read about it, I am forced to take it out of the safe box I keep it all locked up in and feel it. I am tired of feeling it, so prefer to keep the box locked up. Silly I know, but it just my thing.

Sketching Artist said...

Yeah, dead dogs is NG. No Good. Marley & Me was a tough movie. And in Independence Day, when Will Smith's girlfriend is in the tunnel with her son & dog. Boomer with a fireball coming down on them. I said, if that dog dies I'm going to be so pissed.
For me, the taboo subject is eyes. Anything to do with the eyes. NO SHARP OBJECTS! No eyeball torture. Ugh. I think I'm going to be sick just thinking about not thinking about it.