Thursday, September 1, 2011

That Old Familiar Feeling

This post should be coming to you from my beach vacation, but Irene had other plans. I've been determined to stick to my plans to do some reading and refill the well, so to speak. But since I'm home, today my eyes wandered over to my keeper shelf. Not just the keeper bookcase, but the shelf—actually part of my bed's headboard that has a few of the books that I go back to because I love them and I'm also trying to figure out how the hell the author did that.

One thing these special-shelf books have in common is that they aren't romance. I love romance, but the thing I love best about these books wouldn't work in something sticking to reader expectations for romance—unless it was a multi-book series and you were going to keep the couple apart for a book at least. The thing that makes these books so special is that either a quarter or a halfway through them, the main character loses everything. Not just a plot thing, or a relationship thing, but their very core of existence. For most, suicide would be a step up but they can't even reach that. This isn't a black moment thing, it goes deeper and every time I reread the books, I feel that awful, amazing twist in my gut. Actually, I think the first time I got to p. 70 of Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold, I gave some consideration to throwing up so hard was the gut punch she delivered to the character.

I do like to torture my characters. I like my stories to be emotional, but to be as cruel as some of these authors are, to rip out the very foundation of the character's existence and still ride through another two hundred pages to a satisfactory ending—if not an HEA—is something I shake at the idea of doing to my own imaginary friends. I'm not exactly sure that they wouldn't run off and leave me spluttering, unable to tell the rest of the story.

One of those books, The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley, is about a male/male relationship and is finally available for Kindle and probably other digital formats. If you haven't already had the pleasure (and I know I've mentioned the book here at least once a year) I recommend that you take that exquisitely painful plunge and then tell me if you like having your guts ripped out like I do. I just like to have it done by authors who I know will put them back in and seal me back up by the end. Any recs?


Nithu said...

I've just read 'A Dangerous Man' by Anne Brooke. It's not a happy tale, but I thought it was a fabulous story and very compelling.

jmc said...

Bujold really likes to torture her characters, doesn't she? The Curse of Chalion is one of my regular re-reads, and what she puts Caz through, while not as painful as the beginning of Memory, is pretty horrendous.

Justine said...

I love some angst. Just finished Bad Company and loved it. I have bought The Catch Trap, hopefully it won't be too much angst for me

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