Over at Karen's, Azteclady (whom I MET! Really! She epitomizes cute-as-button) is talking about how she can't read rape scenes. Can't tolerate them. I mentioned how I can't take dead babies in books, but that's not true any more.
Just now I recalled last month I read a fantasy in which a father looks down at his infant son one moment and, in the next, he tosses Junior into a river. Dad rides off, thinking about what he wants for breakfast.
I read that scene and kept going. In fact that whole book has a fair chunk of violence. A few years ago, I would have been fine with the rapes and suicides until we got to the baby. Then I would have imitated dad and lofted that book right over my shoulder. I have developed a high tolerance for fictional violence--at least in small doses.
It's the non-fictional violence that brings on nausea fast. I can read it without hyperventilating but looking at it second-hand, face to face....Oy.
Just that million mile look in someone's eye, when they're about to narrate what happened to their families after the soldiers arrived. ....and I'm checking out. I'm nodding and maybe making appropriate noises but I do Not. Want. To. Hear. In fact it's been a couple of years since I've heard one of those stories and I'm still getting that oh, shit, it's happening again feeling and that's just thinking about what I heard.
A few years ago, I couldn't read the nasty fiction. But I could formulate the right response to refugees stories and even gently probe about what happened when it seemed like they wanted to talk.
Ten years of listening to those stories and the situation was reversed. Now fiction is fine. Kill off an entire planet, all the inhabitants one by one, make me watch the process, and I have no problem with it.
But when it's the truth. Umm. Cue Jack Nicholson thundering at me "You can't handle the truth." I'm nodding right along with Jack...and in almost all of those cases? No one should have to.