Thursday, March 26, 2009


I used to dislike contemporary novels and stories that centered on murder or featured it as a major plot point. I don’t feel that way about classics, where it’s part of the collective subconscious already. And not mysteries or other “genre” stuff where murder’s the whole point. But literary stuff where it feels like a murder was tacked on to give the story closure? I will think of specific examples soon, but I’m blanking now. But we all know what I mean, right?

I don’t really put in that category William T. Vollman, or that other quite graphic writer Dennis Cooper, who are both fascinated with violence, though the latter probably more with sex. They are experimenting consciously with it and not using it to shore up the drama exclusively. It’s part of the fabric of their writing.

But generally my thought has been that most people don’t live their lives murdering or being murdered, so why should fiction disproportionately focus on it?

It dawned on me very recently that if fiction is to condense our fundamental realties, then murder has to be front and center. As we all know, most societies are founded on killing and supported by it. The winners of world wars, and tribal and clan warfare, and internecine rivalry populate the world today. We are a world of murderers, or the descendents of them. We are heirs to slaughter. So I would like to write about that: about our inheritance, and what we do with it today. End of polemic. For now.

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