Quote of the Day: Real solemn history, I cannot be interested in. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars and pestilences in every page; the men so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all. Jane Austen
Writing saved me from the sin and inconvenience of violence. Alice Walker
Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man’s soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it. Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
I just finished reading the fifth book in Sandra Brannan‘s murder/mystery series. She includes some descriptive details of the murders and violent acts in her books, but not to the point where I can’t read them. Her books fit more into the category of the “Cozy Mystery” like Sue Grafton’s alphabet series, although I’d say they’re more like detective novels. The first three books dealt with violence against women and serial killers. The author gives us just enough detail to picture the scene and raise our anxiety. She creates that element of suspense that keeps you turning pages late into the night, trying to get the main character and the victims out of harm’s way. In Noah’s Rainy Day, the fourth book, and Solomon’s Whisper, number 5, she writes about violence against children, kidnapping, molestation, and murder. These are much harder details to imagine and read about. I read Noah’s Rainy Day as fast I could with both fear that the unthinkable might happen and hope that I’ll get to that “Oh, thank God” moment. I was emotionally involved in this story, and had real heart pounding moments while reading it. When I read Solomon’s Whisper, I felt more emotionally detached. I think it was because there were several murders, all involving children, and the story jumped around more. Or, maybe it was because I wanted to keep myself emotionally safe. I don’t know.
All this is to say, I’m not afraid of reading books that include violence. I’ve read numerous books about people who survived the Holocaust, or didn’t, and the horrors they experienced. I like murder/mysteries. In fact, if Sue Grafton’s next book came out tomorrow, I’d close whatever else I’ve been reading and dive in to her story. I read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand two years ago, during the Christmas break, and I couldn’t put it down. It is filled with graphic details of the violence that Louie Zamperini suffered while in the Japanese prison camps during WWII. It was horrible. I took breaks from reading it, but quickly picked it back up again. I think I needed to read him out of that nightmare and back home to safety. We went to the movie this weekend, and I didn’t like watching it. By the time it ended, I said, “That was harsh,” and thought to myself, Thank God it’s over. It feels to me, while watching war movies and battle movies, that the violence goes on too long and that it’s there “for violence’s sake.” In this case, it is the fact of life. That’s what happens in war.
I’m trying to sort out my feelings. I didn’t like watching Unbroken, but I found the book fascinating. I turn the tv off if the news, or program, shows too much violence against children, but I’ve read many stories that include such abuses. So, what is the difference? Is it easier to process the violence when I read it because the author can give me details at a rate that I can handle them. Is my imagination a little more PG than films and television? Is the emotional connection stronger when we read, or when we watch the violence?
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What do you think? Can you read about war, violence, murder? Do you watch the movies for the action/violence? Is it easier to read those graphic details rather than watch them?