Friday, July 18, 2008

The pleasure of unrepentant nastiness

{Photo by Joe Germuska, used under a Creative Commons license.}

As you can tell if you've read this blog for a while, I'm not much of a fan of escapist fiction. Yet at the same time, literature is my one big escape, distracting me during my commute and getting me through long lines at the grocery. My post the other day about cattiness reminded me, though, of one fairly escapist way in which I use literature: I love to read about horrid, unrepentantly nasty behavior that I would never for a moment tolerate--that in fact would horrify me--in real life. {It's a pleasure that rocketlass completely fails to understand. I think that means she's a better person than I am.}

And I'm in the mood for some now, which is why I picked up Choderlos de Laclos's Les Liasons Dangereuses at the bookstore the other night--though my friend Jim McCoy, who's very good on this topic, tells me that the copy of Balzac's Lost Illusions that I have on my bookshelf would do just fine . . .

A very dry martini, some cold-hearted betrayals, and page after page of calculating, slashing, unrepentant double-dealing and nastiness. What more could I want for a summer evening? Any other reading suggestions while I'm at it?

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