Nicoleandmaggie over at Grumpy Rumblings (the best blogtitle ever) read my mind and asked their readers for ideas for "soothing novels." I don't know why they are asking for this, but I know why I am interested in this. The entire world seems to be obsessed with pedophilia, and I need a break. First, it was this awful Prime Suspect I saw where Ciaran Hinds, who is so fabulous in Persuasion, is this awful man in charge of all these kids and he does awful things to them and he's in league with all these others and it's just terrible. (I don't usually watch Prime Suspect so I had no context for this, but I know now if someone says they've been transferred to Vice, I need to turn it off.) There was this one scene with a young man who had lived through it who refused to testify because they'd already ruined his childhood and didn't want them to ruin the rest of his life -- and the guy was a great actor. He looked so tortured. I'm a soft touch, but I was haunted by this stuff for ages! Then I was reading Elizabeth George's Believing the Lie (spoiler alert) which includes among its stories a screwed-up teenage boy who sells himself into pedophilia because he wants to die. This was me trying to give Elizabeth George another chance after This Body of Death, which included the grisly murder of a baby by children. I love the Lynley mysteries and think George is a pretty good writer, but did she save the teenage boy before the sodomy? No, she did not. Instead, right after. I don't know what I'm going to do because there is already a new Lynley mystery out. And I don't think I can give any more of my life to being disturbed and distraught over some fiction meant for entertainment! And I thought I was safe with Endeavour, but no. Another pedophilia ring with doctors and others who are entrusted to take care of children and instead are awful. Just awful. It's gotten to the point that when I was watching Saving Mr. Banks, the movie about P.L. Travers and Walt Disney, I kept waiting for something awful and inappropriate to happen to Helen, when her beloved father being a terrible alcoholic who dragged his family to the ends of Australia and then died, leaving her with her inept mother, was really bad enough.
I understand that within the context of a murder mystery, which is not exactly focused on the best in human nature, people entrusted to take care of children who violate that trust are perfect villains that the audience will cheer to see dead or caught. And certainly pedophilia rings are the lowest of the low -- the terrible other in our human imagination. Yes, I get that. But I also worry what it means when we unearth this terrible fear we have in service of entertainment. And as a parent, well, I already want to wrap up my child in bubblewrap. (Ever see that Simpsons where Homer becomes some child safety guru and changes the swimming pools into jello? I get that.) I don't need anything stoking my fear.
I realize I'm probably alone on this. What do you expect in murder mysteries anyway? (I'm glad Miss Marple is back!) And most people don't watch or read something and then have terrible terrible dreams and loops in their heads that intrude when doing something innocuous like sudoku. I'm super-sensitive to these kinds of images, and they live on in my head long after the movie's over. (The Accused screwed me up for a long time. Prince of Tides. Leaving Las Vegas yucko. You name it, I probably can't deal with it. AP wants me to see Natural Born Killers. Maybe it's a great movie. Maybe it has terrific themes. But no. Just no. A person I trusted long ago told me I couldn't handle it, and you know what? It may not be worth the risk.) This is part of me figuring out my limitations. I can't just watch movies and enjoy the thrill ride and be done with it when the lights come up.
So "soothing novels." I like that. (Also, a big part of my research and teaching includes reading/teaching about some pretty awful stuff. So I think I can only deal with the disturbing in that context.)
So: go over to nicoleandmaggie's and check out the list! Happy Friday! Or leave your own suggestions there or here!
(The weather has definitely taken a turn toward the gray and chilly, which is wonderful but it makes me want to stay in all day and think about books when really I have to get AC to his hair appointment. And today, I promised him and me some Starbucks, which I've been virtuously eschewing in my veganness. Come on, Earnest! Get.up.off.the.couch!)