Wednesday, February 10, 2016

No Thanks, I'll Pass

 By Tracy Kiely

If I wander into a bookstore (which, by the way, is harder and harder to do these days, but that’s another post) and I come across a book about a serial killer who is targeting small children, large children, women, men, or animals, I will keep walking. So, basically I will pass on most books about serial killers.
I also am not a big fan of tortured protagonists with horribly bleak lives. (However, I loved Girl on the Train, so clearly I am not to be trusted with my decrees.)
I might as well admit it; I like to put myself in a happy bubble. I’ve always been this way. I used to get stomach cramps when Mr. Snuffleupagus visited Big Bird on Sesame Street and no one believed him! My mother would find me in tears, shouting at the TV, “But Snuffy is REAL!” We watched Mr. Rogers after that. But then he sat on the toilet and sang, “Don’t Worry, You’re Too Big To Go Down the Drain,” and I thought, “WTH? That’s a thing? Why am I just hearing about this?” After that, we didn’t watch a lot of TV.

He's right there, dammit!

I have tried to push myself out of the bubble, but the results were not optimal. In college, I read Red Dragon. Not only did I not sleep for a week, but I also refused to let our dog out of my sight. (Spoiler Alert: the killer went after the family pets first to avoid extra hassle on the big night he terrorized and killed the family.)

Seriously. What the hell was I thinking?
 I’m the same with movies. Don’t even get me started on The Exorcist, especially The Exorcist III. Good wins because Good (portrayed by George C. Scott) happened to have a gun handy at the time?  What kind of faith message is that? I don’t recall anything in the Bible about angels packing heat, but then again I’m Catholic. Catholics don’t really read the Bible. We tend to read the Bulletin.

This scene right here? Still freaks me out.

I’m a sucker for glossy portrayals of an era when there were butlers and lady’s maids and elaborate picnic lunches on the lawn. Nine times out of ten they are completely unrealistic depictions, but then so aren’t amateur sleuths solving multiple homicides in between popping in and out of French windows and playing lawn tennis.

Well, hello Gorgeous!

Anyway, please don’t judge me, but I simply don’t have the mental strength to read about utter chaos and cruelty and injustice. I have three children, who are lovely creatures, but they provide all the chaos and sibling cruelty and injustice that I can handle.  In addition, they are all sadly afflicted with Idontseeititis.  This means that in their wake is a never-ending trail of clutter and chaos. They regard the task of putting away their dishes as a grown up version of Pin The Tail On The Donkey. They get the dishes close to the dishwasher, but no one every really nails it.
In short, I like books that I can fall into without that panicky feeling of “Holy Crap! Get me the hell out of here!” I have that right now every time I walk into our kitchen.


Jim Thomsen said...

I feel just the opposite, but I respect your stance. But have one question: Are cozy mysteries racist? I worry that if we immerse ourselves merely in comfort-food crime fiction, we're not meaningfully broadening our worldviews. And crime fiction that caters to our class/race prejudices contributes to the perception that crime fiction is lesser literature, and keeps the genre and its practitioners from being part of the necessary cultural conversation. Shouldn't the best crime fiction reflect the world as it is, not the world we wish it were? I really think there's room for realism in the fiction we harried, overstressed people read without it being a further drain on our daily batteries. If nothing else, isn't such storytelling a great way to prepare your children for the decidedly uncozy real world?

TracyK said...

I understand your point, but I don’t think that you necessarily have to enjoy every form of art offered to expand your worldview. That’s the lovely thing about the crime fiction genre – it’s amazing variety. And there can be just as many lessons about the evil in the world learned in a garden party murder mystery as there can in a gritty, police procedural. In my mind, the best crime fiction is well written, tells a gripping story and has three-dimensional characters. The rest is just icing on the cake; some like a lot, some like it plain, but neither should be considered inferior to the other.

Art Taylor said...

Tracy! That EXACT scene from Exorcist 3 stands out to me all these years later as one of the creepiest things I've ever seen.

Still sending shivers through me just to see that still.