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Booking Through Thursday … Villainy

September 11, 2008

BTT is hosted here and Deb posed the following today in honor of September 11th.

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?

(Disclaimer: I realize the question is book focused but for me it encompasses more than just books)

Like most everyone I else I remember where I was when I first found out about the attacks on U.S. soil. I was at work surrounded by dozens and dozens of TVs. Working for a major provider of satellite entertainment it’s difficult not walk 5 feet anywhere in the Call Center and not be bombarded with visual stimulus. That day and the weeks to follow were extremely difficult and to this day I’m very aware of those particular events and other human motivated tragedies that strike without warning around the world.

But has it changed what I choose to read ~ yes and no. I made a decision years ago, even before the events of 9/11, to separate what I read for pleasure from my real world. Newspapers for instance. I gave up actually reading a newspaper long before 9/11. Now days I’ll skim headlines to keep abreast of world events but no more than that.

Magazines ~ You won’t find Time or Newsweek in our house. I feel the same way about those types of magazines as I do newspapers. Skim the headlines and move on.

Books ~ The big one. I love movies that have been made from Tom Clancy books but I’ve never been able to get into reading his work, some is too technical for me. Nor do I read Brad Thor, Daniel Silva, or John Lescroart. Mainly interest and appeal. Not my usual genre. Recently I’ve made an exception to that rule ~ Vince Flynn and his covert Black Ops character, Mitch Rapp. Mitch moves in and among terrorists, it’s his job. I love Mitch and I’ve read everything Mr. Flynn has written. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of his newest, Extreme Measures. And all of it in the last 6 months give or take. So the question appears to be why Mr. Flynn and Mitch and not the others? I don’t have a good answer for that except that this series had been on my wishlist for a while languishing while other books were always moving ahead of them. One day I was looking for something different to read, something out the norm for me. So I went for it and feel in love with a character and series. The books aren’t overly technical, they’re pure and simple entertainment. Mitch is a kick-ass, take names later kinda guy. He’ll watch out for and stick up for his best buddies but don’t you dare cross him. Mitch doesn’t stop till he gets his target and if it means a few dead bodies along the way so be it. Did 9/11 change how I read this series ~ maybe a bit. I might root a bit more, might care a bit more if Mitch gets the evil sons of b****** but I also realize that this is a work of fiction with both feet set firmly in reality. Mitch and, those he fights for and against, are very real, very scary and not in the least two dimensional or cookie-cutter. They are today’s reality.

On flip side of reading action thrillers based on current, real world terrorist-based events my personal library and, just about the only books I actually own, are the personal stories that came of out the tragic events of 7 years ago. Because it was so overwhelming at the time and continues as a part of our history and legacy I needed to put a human face to those stories. I have 2+ bookshelves in my house dedicated to the victims and families of those who lost their lives, gave their lives and those who live on. I’ve read every one of these books and I still find myself drawn to the stories of courage, survival and perseverance of the human spirit. Just recently I received the newest story of these events, Firefight: Inside the Battle to Save the Pentagon on 9/11 by Patrick Creed and Rick Newman.

While the events of 9/11, the bombs in Madrid and London, and the war in Darfur and other human-driven, mass loss-of-life events continue on let us hope and pray that we, as intelligent life sustaining, life giving, human beings one day learn lessons of peace and send messages of love those who share our lives and our world.

Your thoughts?

  1. Lee permalink
    September 11, 2008 3:17 pm

    I gave up on new Tom Clancy books about ten years ago. In fact, I got rid of all my Clancy books except three: “The Hunt For Red October,” “Red Storm Rising” and “Patriot Games.” For me, the first and third books are the “purest” of the Jack Ryan novels. I eagerly read all the Ryan books through “Executive Orders,” but no further. I think that, like many adventure authors with continuing characters, Clancy got caught in the “the hero saves the world — again” trap (which happened with Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt character years before). Ryan’s rise from part-time CIA analyst to president made perfect sense, but I just got tired of it after awhile.

    Clancy stumbled early-on at least once, as well; I found “The Cardinal of the Kremlin” almost unreadable. To me, “Red October” is the most tightly plotted of his books; “Patriot Games” made Ryan the most human (and made the best movie, but maybe that’s just the Harrison Ford fan in me), and “Red Storm Rising” is just a great example of Cold War military fiction.

    I admit to being stuck in the 80s as far as these things go, though… I like my naval forces arrayed across oceans, my air ops to feature dogfights, and my land forces to feature tanks belching sabot rounds at each other. In the age of terrorism, theatres of operation are smaller and opposing forces far less equal. In the real world, the stakes are just as high, but for fiction, anti-terrorist operations just aren’t as much fun to read.

  2. September 11, 2008 4:50 pm

    I no longer can read Clancy books.

  3. September 13, 2008 6:26 pm

    Hi all,

    Somehow I don’t think Mr. Clancy will notice a few missing $$$ in his pocketbook. 🙂

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