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So Everything Should Be Forever

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My mind is a muddle.

I read two books on Thursday.

To study the nature of evil.

I can’t reveal the books.

Or the evil.

I need to take a shower.

Or several.

To wash off the day.

Or.

Let the words wash into my pores.

Stream from my fingers.

Until I am empty.

Until I am clean.

********************

Have you ever encountered a character that wouldn’t leave you, even after you closed the book? What haunted you about that character? Please discuss in today’s comments and think of me while I deliver multiple presentations to incoming Rotary presidents.

46 Comments Post a comment
  1. Not a single character as much as hosts of characters. I remember reading Leon Uris’s QB VII when I was in my early teens, and being horrified by the Nazis and WWII. I was about 14 when it came out and for some reason had not really understood the genocide of the Jews until then. I was haunted and deeply troubled by all that I read and learned. It was one of the days in my life where I felt my naïveté begin to tear away from my life.

    March 1, 2013
    • One of the books on my current reading list deals with the Nazis. Maybe I should get that one out and read it, too, before tacking my next phase. On second thought, most bad guys were never that evil.

      Fourteen is an interesting age to be so profoundly impacted by something you read.

      March 1, 2013
      • QB VII is a phenomenal book . . . definitely one to impact each reader.

        March 1, 2013
  2. Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima from The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño.

    March 1, 2013
    • I’ve read that one, Robert. Perhaps I will go back and skim it again.

      March 1, 2013
  3. and Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451. All three for the same reason. People out of step with their times who carry a burden of knowledge that escapes others. (Belano and Lima much more mystical and possibly wrong but no matter…). Also Godot.

    March 1, 2013
    • Your summation of the evil within these characters is very profound. It helped me neatly sum up my own character. Thank you.

      March 1, 2013
  4. I remember reading one of Dean Koontz’s novels, I got to page 68 and had nighmares and believe it or not as long as that book was on my headboard I had nightmares. I didn’t finish the book, in fact, I didn’t get past 68 (funny how I remember the exact page) and I ended up sending it on to a friend who liked those kinds of books. This is why I do not watch scary moves, sad movies, thinker movies. I get so wrapped up in the story it will not leave me and if it’s sad, well, I’m deep into depression for months on end, hence, I limit what I read and watch. :)

    March 1, 2013
    • It’s awesome that you remember the exact page, Lori. Have you read any of his other books?

      I also think it’s great that you allow art to move you that way. I’ve always thought it was the job of the artist, in whatever medium, to make me feel something. Sad, happy, scared, down, euphoric. Whatever. I read to feel things I cannot always access in everyday life. It’s good, though, to know when to draw a line. Since most of my reading right now is research, I just keep having to go deeper. Needless to say, I’m glad I’m spending most of today and tomorrow out of the house, with other people. :)

      March 1, 2013
      • tarakianwarrior #

        No Andra, I have never opened up another book by Mr. Koontz. I don’t like being afraid and having nightmares. I think I’m an old soul, I can pull up an emotion at the drop of a hat… I look at you like you are bright and shiny – you remind me of two of my favorite flowers – the lily for it’s gorgeous lines, and the daisy for its pure fun!

        March 4, 2013
  5. Jill Clary Stevenson #

    I’m dying to know what you read. By any chance (and I am only guessing this because of the title of your post) did you read Katherine Boo’s “Beyond the Beautiful Forevers”?

    March 1, 2013
    • It wasn’t that one, Jill, but I will look it up. Perhaps it will help me.

      Is this the weekend you’re here?

      March 1, 2013
  6. What did you think of The Devil in the White City by Eric Larson? I know you read that one. I am not that interested in books about evil. Perversion and deviancy, yes. Evil, no.

    March 1, 2013
    • I enjoyed that book. And, to correctly portray a thing, one must endeavor to understand it.

      March 1, 2013
  7. sperling46 #

    One book that moved me is “Night” by Elie Wiesel. It’s an inspiring story of overcoming experiences beyond imagining. Also, I have been influenced by the popular Jane Austin character Elizabeth Bennett. Her intelligence and manner are inspiring in a world that is too often one of act, speak followed by thinking rather than the other way around.

    March 1, 2013
    • Pride and Prejudice is one of my all-time faves. I read it every few years. I will have to put Night on my reading list, though. Thanks for the rec.

      March 1, 2013
  8. I had trouble letting go of “The Sound and the Fury” after reading it; I think because Benjy’s narrative is so confused and raw and immediate, and some of the things that happen are so awful.

    March 1, 2013
    • Another good, disturbing read. Thanks for adding it to this list.

      March 1, 2013
  9. Oh, golly (and gee whiz)! So many stay with me and some are those already mentioned.

    “Night” is overpowering for a book that is not very long. I read it years after “QBVII” and am still stunned by not only the horrors of the concentration camps, but the ending of the book. “The Devil and the White City” also comes to mind, as well as Capote’s “In Cold Blood”.

    It was “Helter Skelter” that absolutely terrified me. The author’s name escapes me at the moment, but Charles Manson, whom I think is still alive, is the epitome of evil and the author laid out the story masterfully. It was weeks before I could fall asleep, imaging his converts to evil creeping around my room at night.

    I think I’ll go check the locks on the doors.

    March 1, 2013
    • I suspect I am after the charming qualities of Ted Bundy rather than Charles Manson, though I’m not writing about serial killers. I’ve watched interviews with Manson, and he does have a hypnotic quality about him. Bundy had it, too, but he was truly charming. I suspect everyone who met him liked him, if that’s what he wanted them to do……until they realized why they shouldn’t like him……..

      March 1, 2013
    • Vincent Bugliosi, Penny! Good reference! I have been thinking of this book recently because of the possible release of one of the Manson followers…you’ve given me a post idea. *shudder!*

      March 1, 2013
      • Yes! Thank you. I’m shuddering, but, will look to read that post, Debra.

        March 1, 2013
  10. I never got over reading “In Cold Blood,” Andra. You’ve given me an idea for a post, but now I’m feeling icky! Yikes! I know what you’re referring to in the ability to shake a character! I hope you have a good day with your presentations. Don’t let them see behind your eyes! :-)

    March 1, 2013
    • I haven’t read ‘In Cold Blood.’ I really need to rectify that soon. Thanks for that rec, Debra.

      March 2, 2013
  11. Too many to fully enumerate. Thomas Covenant, It, Carrie, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Bilbo, Thorin, the eye of Sauron, (No, I have NOT seen the movie), Spenser, Harry Potter et al, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, I seem to be thinking in genres today – let’s break out of that, Benjy Compson, Addy Bundren, Ellie and her family in For better or for worse, The marquis de Carabas, Door, Misters Vandemar and Croup, Coraline [for ages after I read that, I thought ‘why would anyone name a child CArOline. Yeah. Guess what my daughter is named?), Othello, Iago, Desdemona, Hamlet …

    March 1, 2013
    • Genres aren’t bad. These are all very helpful. Thank you.

      March 2, 2013
  12. angelaamman #

    I just read Dare Me, which is about cheerleaders. But not exactly. Perhaps I am overthinking it, but the despair of those teenagers and the things they use to try to fill their emptiness? It terrifies me. And this is probably not what you have in mind, but I held my breath for 50 pages and blew off my to-do list last night, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

    March 1, 2013
    • That is a book I should read, regardless. It sounds gripping. Thanks for recommending it, Angela.

      March 2, 2013
  13. I’m always held captive by the cast of a favorite book, and bad guys are compelling. At the moment, I’m reading the Song of Ice and Fire series, and there are a few characters who continue to speak to me even when I’m not reading, namely a dwarf, a bastard, and a wicked queen.

    March 1, 2013
    • It is always a joy to meet characters like that, isn’t it?

      March 2, 2013
  14. I’ve had a character stay with me, but from a movie rather than a book, Andra. The movie was on a harrowing, haunting topic which is just too depressing to write about. I’ll just say ‘nuclear’ to stop minds wandering in any number of wrong directions.
    One of my own characters wouldn’t leave me until I wrote about her as well, but that’s different also. I can’t remember any book characters though… although I shall ponder this one…

    March 1, 2013
  15. I have an unequivocal scene which haunts me still sometimes. It is from one of my great heroes, Robertson Davies, and his Deptford Trilogy, and it the story of how a small outcast Canadian boy- who later becomes the great magician, Magnus Eisengrim- is kidnapped and abused by a fairground worker. It is true evil: thoughtless, what happens when good people do nothing, and searingly real to the little boy, its subject. I do not like to think about that scene. But I think it is necessary to read and know of it, and to recognise that brutality can be everyday.

    March 1, 2013
    • Thanks for recommending this one, Kate. I may have to look this one up for that scene.

      March 2, 2013
  16. There haven’t been that many but a ton of Anne Rice’s characters have which is probably why she has been one of the few authors who has really completely drawn me into their works

    March 1, 2013
    • I once saw an interview with her where she was talking about how she wrote “Interview With the Vampire” in the wake of her daughter’s death. She said she went into this zone and put the little girl in there who became a vampire and sobbed because it was her way to try to make her daughter live. I’m paraphrasing, but I still vividly remember that interview, years later. I guess what I’m saying is that making characters like that is emotionally taxing for the writer. I don’t know how I’ll ever get there, yet I still do not see how MTM lives with me.

      March 2, 2013
      • Ah yes, little Claudia. I’ve said it before, you’re writing already reminds me of hers in some ways, least of which is not the southern sensibilities that can be seen throughout them.

        March 2, 2013
      • I will take that as a compliment, though her writing has always creeped me out a little. :)

        March 2, 2013
      • I think that is the biggest separation between your writing. You definitely flirt with creepy a little though! And I love it!

        March 3, 2013
  17. Just watching the news each day introduces me to new evils that I had never previously considered. I do my best to stay on the side of the angels.

    March 2, 2013
    • I don’t watch the news, Roger, and it helps my disposition enormously.

      March 2, 2013
  18. John Dewis #

    Hi Andra, hope your reading has helped clarify and define evil. Is an evil action or behaviour only bad relative to the social norms of that particular group or society, Carrying guns to most europeans is evil, not so if you live in you know where. Equally all Germans are not evil, however the social norms during the late 1930′s were anti Jew and led to the holocaust. Lance Armstrong at the first time he engaged in blood doping thought that was the norm. Was he evil, yes when compared with non sporiting public. No, when compared with his peers and social group.History tells us that social norms go from one extreme of the pendulum and then return to the other side. Is being hung drawn and quartered more evil than being electrocuted or given a lethal injection? I often think that if everyone were to follow the Christian ethic all would be alright, and yet we read of the historic and ongoing sexual abuse that has occurred in the Catholic Church. Additionally the thousands that have been slaughtered over centuries in the name of religion. So i don’t think that normal people in the 21st century will ever fully understand what makes people evil, all we can do is avoid it if we know it is present and treat people the way we would want to be treated.

    March 2, 2013
    • John, thank you for this comment. Given the reason I asked for input, this is very helpful for me to put a few things in perspective as I tackle making a two-dimensional character a three-dimensional one.

      March 2, 2013
  19. That’s a question that I will have to think about for a while. Many characters have haunted my dreams, but I can’t think of who at the moment.

    March 2, 2013
    • Fire away when you think of one. These answers are all very interesting to me.

      March 2, 2013
  20. Great discussion: I was terrified by the first Mrs Rochester, for years.
    Andrew O’Hagan’s book The MIssing is a really interesting look at society, missing persons and a serial killer.

    March 8, 2013

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