Friday, February 02, 2007

Lit Noir


King Death.
From the Book of Hours of Marie de Brabant.

Yesterday, read a story beginning over on Evil Editor's where the main character rests his pistol beside his "limp dick." The writer infers that both tools have shot their load.
A clever sexual equation, I suppose, because it has been often claimed that men are hard-wired to view guns, cars, horses, etc. as symbols of male virility.
Subsequently, someone commented that there seems to be a rise in "shock" fiction.
In Lit Noir. In a form of nihilistic expression. Gloom 'n doom. Necro-velcro.
The lure of decadence without the impetus of something substantial like the Black Death.
Not too sure of that. The sex 'n death theme has been around for a while in various forms.
Seems to me there was a movie a few years ago about a mortician violating...excuse me...making love to a body under her professional care. Considered very sensitive by some critics.
One could claim that the present popularity of sexy vampire novels also represents much the same thing.
Even Hamilton's Anita Blake describes her reluctance to give in to the sensual attraction of the vampire Jean-Claude as "the guy's dead" ( not an exact quote) though she eventually does. Apparently he's learned a lot over 200 years or so.
The problem with "shock 'n raw," is that one can become accustomed to it. Quickly.
That's as true in literature as it is in real life.

26 comments:

December Quinn said...

Yes, there was a movie...I don't remember the girl's real name, but she eventually stole a body and tried to leave the state with it. I read an interview with her once. Very creepy but normal at the same time, if that makes any sense. It was hard to realize, as she talked about someone's sweet expression and the passion of their soul, that she was in fact talking about a dead body.

I think that's a big part of it with the vamps...they've cheated death, but they are dead, and there's that whole blood thing which is a lifeforce, it's like they're digesting part of you...uh, just a guess.

Ric said...

Yea!! It's Friday and Bernita is talking sex! I just love it when she fulfills my needs.

I think, in our you can find anything on the internet world, it is so simple to get a "Wow, that's gross!" Some people like that feeling - vicariously taken out of our comfort zone.

But, as my dear lady points out, it can get old in a hurry.

Steve G said...

Just listen to the news. Death and unthinkable crimes are taking place on a daily basis and being shoved down our throats by the media. It gets old and I for one, am tired of reading and hearing about it. I'm no longer shocked, but I hate the overload. I tune out most and ignore the rest.

Bernita said...

Also a certain titillation of the tabu, I suppose,( the nec-romancy) December, as well as the eternal life fascination.

That's a point, Ric, the vicarious thrill.

We should be glad such things are "news," Steve.
But I agree.
And I wonder if it's an age thing, we may have outgrown naivety about brutality and do not find it even interesting. Merely repetitious - and sad.
A lot some people find "shocking," I do not.

archer said...

Seems to me there was a movie a few years ago about a mortician violating...excuse me...making love to a body under her professional care.

"I would never do such a thing," said Tom in dead earnest.

writtenwyrdd said...

I see this ultra violent trend in writing and it makes me want to blame all those violent video games like Grand Theft Auto. It seems like a logical extension of a preference or trend in the younger generation...

Bernita said...

"I undertake to ex-sanguinate the supercillious," she said cryptically.
Did it ever occur to you, Archer, that might have been deliberate and in fun?

Bernita said...

Could be, Written.
Maybe life seems just too tame, safe and comfortable.
The ennui generation?

Kate Thornton said...

Archer's Tom Swifty gave me a good laugh - haven't seen one in a while.

Back when Tribe's Flashing in the Gutters was up, I saw a lot of shocking shorts. I even wrote a few. It was good practice, kind of like tasting very hot chili sauce, thinking you might use a dash of it in some grand dish in the future.

There is such a chasm between fictional death and the real thing, and there's just too much of the real thing sometimes for me to be entertained by the bare bones (or bodies) fictional sort. I need more of a story, characters, setting and plot to keep me going. Okay, and sometimes a splash of hot chili sauce.

Anonymous said...

". . . it makes me want to blame all those violent video games like Grand Theft Auto."

That would be as good a cop out as any. I think it's just a matter of each generation becoming desensitized and needing just a little more to get them excited. -V95

Bernita said...

That's a good analogy, Kate.
One of the difficulties for that type or style is making the reader care about the characters involved.

Bernita said...

It may indeed be partly a generational thing, V95.
A "these days" comparison to "the good old days" on one hand, and a form of rebellion on the other.
I hesitate the label it a trend rather than a fad, and I'm not sure it is really "new" or just a form of tragedy gone punk.

spyscribbler said...

Shock 'n Raw! What a great way to put it. There's only so far to go before desensitization kicks in. I wouldn't know how to walk that line.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

LOL...color me...hiding behind my fan!

And Ric, you'd better behave or you'll be on your wife's list...right behind the bank teller...LOL!

raine said...

"Nec-romancy".
Oh, very good! *shudder!*

Ah, well--what to do when all's been done? Especially when you're trying to catch a publisher's attention, or revive sales, or the audience is looking for that new, more intense 'fix'?

It's hard to keep 'em on the farm once they've seen Paris...and France...and yes, the lack of underpants...

Bernita said...

Thank you, Spy.
I wonder too, if this style is an attempt to restate experience in terms of more physical and viseral metaphors.

But Bonnie, that fan picture was so cute!

That's neat, Raine.
There must be a corresponding desire for the stuff by readers and not just the feverish desperation by writers to produce something new and "fresh."
It's interesting - the balance between recognition of a market and the concept of creating one.

Robyn said...

I completely reserve the right to say EEEWWWWW!

I really don't like shock for shock's sake. There can be thoughtful explorations of salacious subjects, but all too often it turns into a sideshow freak-a-thon.

Anonymous said...

The movie was "Kissed" with Sarah Polley. I didn't see it but the trailers were pretty gross.

Asa

Holly Kennedy said...

Violent noirish "shock and raw" writing does nothing for me. I can't be bothered reading it because it desensitizes me to the point that it takes away from my ability to write more nuanced, layered pieces that move readers. Again, subjectivity is fascinating, though, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

tragedy gone punk

That's cool terminology. I'll have to find a way to use it sometime.

Is that you, Asa?

Bernita said...

Thank you, Asa.

Robyn, Holly,difficult to see it working over an entire novel without that desitizing effect on the reader.
Some scenes perhaps should be brutal, but an entire novel might be like listening to someone yelling all the time.
Still, there are people who could make it work.

Donnetta Lee said...

Bernita: I don't like "shock" and "raw". I like surprise couched in subtlety. I do like vampire stories but not blood and guts. I like my vampires sensuous and intelligent. They should have style and character, positive or negative, either way.

And, I agree, we are becoming desensitized to the gruesome. I think the new generation does not feel safe. Very few comfortable boundaries here. Might as well be drawn to the dreadful.

One way or the other, good writing, good entertainment should have some basic point to it--that is, something more than "shock."

Donnetta

Bernita said...

The question is, Donnetta, which generation will determine the sales?

Donnetta Lee said...

Bernita: I'm pondering the question. Need another cup of coffee. Do the contemporary writers influence the buying readers or do the buying readers influence the writers, or does a bygone generation influence--oh, poo, I'm lost in a loop. Where is that damned coffee anyway? Donnetta

Ballpoint Wren said...

I don't like shock stuff, either. I do think it caters to a jaded audience.

MaudeClare said...

How true.

All to quickly.