Once & Future

Charlotte Ashley – Book seller, collector, writer, editor, historian

October 15, 2010

A Short Note on Books I Will Probably Never Read

About Cormac McCarthy’s latest, Michael Chabon says, “The Road is not a record of fatherly fidelity; it is a testament to the abyss of a parent’s greater fears.”  The rest of Chabon’s analysis in his essay Dark Adventure, in Maps and Legends, served as just as much of a warning-off: this is a book I will probably never read.

Never say never, I know, but I have to tell you I have no stomach for horror or gore at the best of times, and I am absolutely intolerant of harm and death of children.  Lawrence Hill’s Book of Negroes floored me with its scenes of baby theft-and-murder swaddled in an otherwise feel-good tale.  Jodi Picoult’s short story “Weights and Measures” in Neil Gaiman’s Stories collection had me tearing up at the cash register at work – I mean, I had to stop for fear that I’d start bawling in the middle of the store.  I don’t think I could ever take an unapologetic, stark look at an unforgiving end-of-the-world scenario starring a little boy who is afforded no innocence.  It ain’t happenin’.

I admit I have similar fears about Emma Donoghue’s Room.  I understand the material is presented with innocence and humour, but the subject matter gives me the shivers.  Is this a mommy thing?  How did it treat the rest of you?  Is my squeamishness unfounded?

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