Booking Through Thursday

Today is the 7th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I know that not all of you who read are in the U.S., but still, it’s vital that none of us who are decent people forget the scope of disaster that a few, evil people can cause–anywhere in the world. It’s not about religion, it’s not about politics, it’s about the acknowledgment that humans should try to work together, not tear each other apart, even when they disagree.

So, feeling my way to a question here … Terrorists aren’t just movie villains any more. Do real-world catastrophes such as 9/11 (and the bombs in Madrid, and the ones in London, and the war in Darfur, and … really, all the human-driven, mass loss-of-life events) affect what you choose to read? Personally, I used to enjoy reading Tom Clancy, but haven’t been able to stomach his fight-terrorist kinds of books since.

And, does the reality of that kind of heartless, vicious attack–which happen on smaller scales ALL the time–change the way you feel about villains in the books you read? Are they scarier? Or more two-dimensional and cookie-cutter in the face of the things you see on the news?

Well, I’ve never been really into “terrorists as the main villains”-books, or movies for that matter. So, in that way they haven’t really changed my reading habits. I noticed, though, that I’m also not very interested in books which have no humor or light moments but just endless suffering for the characters.

As for the villains… We don’t really know the reasons why the terrorists do what they do. Oh, we hear the reasons they or their leader mouth, but we can never really know why they themselves do it. Is it because they have been raised to hate certain people (and if so, why don’t everyone raised that way become a terrorist?)? Is it peer pressure? Pressure from family or leaders? Sheer desperation? Or sheer conviction that you *are* right no matter what anyone says? That your or your leader’s interpretation of text, of world events, of other people’s motivations are the only right ones? Or a certain combination? Or something else?

So no, I don’t think the existence of large-scale terrorism (or our grown awareness of it) has changed the way I view fictional villains. Actually reading more and more complex books changes my views of fictional villains. After all, real people are always more complex than fictional ones so they can’t really be compared.