See if you can find a theme in the last several books I’ve read. The first is Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina, which is about growing up poor in South Carolina. The second is Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, and the third is Denise Giardina’s The Unquiet Earth, which is a generational saga about coal miners in Kentucky and West Virginia that starts during the Depression and ends during the Reagan years.
Did you guess sexual assault? Good goddamn job. Both Bastard and Unquiet Earth feature explicit scenes of sexual assault, and of children no less, and Heinlein was a misanthropic son of a bitch who doesn’t pass up a single chance in his book to have his main character hit a woman. Puppet Masters is less explicitly rapey than the other books, but the MC in that book doesn’t give a damn about consent more or less across the board, at one point spending the night in the home of a woman he doesn’t have a sexual relationship with and getting mad when he discovers she’s locked him out of her bedroom. How does he discover this? He tries to get into her bedroom after she goes to bed.
Bastard and Unquiet Earth are both really good books despite the subject matter. Heinlein has had his last chance with me; I’m tossing him on the pile of Important Cultural Figures I Don’t Care About; he and Stanley Kubrick can hang out together and make things I won’t enjoy together. The next book I’m reading is a fucking slave narrative, so I don’t expect things to get any less bleak for at least the next couple hundred pages, but after that I’m going to have to read a few happy books in a row, because all of this is starting to wear on me. That, and maybe I shouldn’t have saved all the states where “living here is a nightmare” is a theme of all their literature until the end of this project.
I swear I had something else that was going to go in this spot, but I just spent twenty minutes sitting in front of the computer and screwing around on my phone, so … apparently not?