Wednesday, November 24, 2010

5 Books That Stole Erica’s Innocence (And She Wants It Back)

This year marks the 16th anniversary of the release of the movie Pulp Fiction. I give Pulp Fiction the dubious honor of being THE MOVIE THAT STOLE MY CHILDHOOD. Before seeing it, I had only vague, shadowy imaginings of the concepts of drug overdose and male rape. Pulp Fiction exposed me to both amidst trenchant mirth and gleeful mayhem in harsh, glaring Technicolor. Here are five books that did something similar. Yeah, I’m a big girl now, but I don’t have to like it.

Flowers in the Attic/Petals on the Wind by V.C. Andrews (Simon Pulse, $10.99)
If V.C. Andrews were alive today I would totally shake her hand. Thanks for exposing me to incest. Thanks for making it eerily titillating in ways an 11 year-old can barely understand. Thanks for somehow making me believe that a brother and sister are meant to be together. Thanks for making me feel pervy all over again.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Vintage, $14.95)
People think Cormac McCarthy is brilliant. I think he sits at home thinking up new and horrific ways humans can kill and cannibalize each other. Father and son walk the road in a post-apocalyptic world gone all “Mad-Maxy” with roving bands of evil-doers, while trying to preserve their own humanity. Not only is this no country for old men, it’s apparently no country for my innocence—Cormac, you dark bastard.

John Dollar by Marianne Wiggins (WSP, $14.00)
What is it about little girls that makes them so damned evil? Strand them on a deserted island and the result is a hundred times more terrifying, gut-wrenching and erotically charged than Lord of the Flies. Oh, Robinson Crusoe, you think you had it tough. Just be glad you’re not a sailor by the name of John Dollar.

Beloved by Toni Morrison (Vintage, $15.00)
Holy heck, Toni Morrison! Did you have to do it? Did you have to use fiction as a means of bearing witness to atrocity and human suffering? Are you and Elie Wiesel engaged in some demented game of one-upmanship in which you try to outdo each other in portraying the horrors visited upon a people? How is it that a work for fiction can be so undeniably, irrevocably true?

Money by Martin Amis (Penguin, $15.00)
Wait, you mean you can write yourself into your own novel as, like, a character and then run into your own protagonist whom you have consequently named John Self? Which wall is this breaking, 4th, 5th, 6th? Be gentle with me, buddy. It’s my first time at metafiction and I hear the first time always hurts.

November 2010, Erica David

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