March 2024
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Booking Through Thursday: Villainy


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?

Not really. I do think it’s important to read both fiction and history centered around these conflicts. Most of us, even if we do watch the news, are not getting the full picture of what’s happened or happening out there, and memoirs, historical fiction, and non-fiction can help give us a better vision of conflict, personality, and true villainy. Not much about humanity has changed except that we discovered technology that helped us kill more people faster and sneakier. So, in that sense, recent events do not shock me. We’re not doing anything but repeating history, which happens so often it isn’t funny.

I didn’t personally know anyone who died on 9/11, but I know people whose relations were killed. I was in high school at the time, living in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City, so it was almost inevitable as many kids’ parents, uncles, aunts, and cousins worked and sometimes lived in the city. I know many people who live there now. It’s important to know that this happened. I haven’t read any books based on that day, though. I’m not sure I want to yet.

Most of the time, I don’t read books that have anything to do with the world today. I like to live in the past, not the present, and while that’s probably not my best characteristic, it’s the way I’ve always been. I don’t think recent events do anything to change how I feel about villains in books, it still depends on how the author portrays them. It’s important to remember that villainy has always existed and probably will always exist; it’s only personal to us because we’ve been attacked. It’s personal to people in other countries every single day and has been for thousands of years. We’re only special because of perspective and in reality I believe we are all extremely lucky to live here and now.  We have all always suffered, though knowing that certainly doesn’t diminish the suffering of those who have lost loved ones in such a tragic way.


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