Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dexter TV show/ When She Woke book

This is on my www.badcb.blogspot.ca

Dec. 9 Dexter TV show: I cut out this article called “Sympathy for the devils” by Jeff Lindsay in the National Post on Jun. 29, 2011.  He wrote the Dexter books which became a TV series.  I only saw the first 2 seasons of the show.  I saw the first season on CTV.  Then I had to rent the dvds from Rogers Video.  Later I was able to watch the rest of season 2 on Showcase.

This is a really good article because it’s insightful and deep about the human condition:

I MAKE my living writing about a serial killer. It’s a pretty good living, and quite frankly, that surprises me. When I wrote my first book, “Darkly Dreaming Dexter,” the story of a sympathetic killer, I thought I was writing something creepy, repellent, perhaps a little wicked. To balance that, I also made him vulnerable and funny, I gave him a fondness for children, and I wrote in the first person — all elements intended to bridge the gap between a homicidal psychopath and readers, who I assumed would, nevertheless, be appalled. 

They weren’t; they liked him. Before publication, a nice-looking yenta from marketing took me aside and confessed, “I maybe shouldn’t say? But I have such a crush on Dexter.” So did other readers. The book took off like a dark little rocket. One of the early reviews even said it “breathes new life into the genre,” which meant there was a serial killer genre. 

I found that amazing: I had done the darkest, least lovable thing I could think of, and a whole genre was there ahead of me. 

People, I realized, like to read about serial killers. And as I found myself on the telephone with Hollywood, arranging for Dexter’s translation into a series for Showtime, I began to think that was pretty funny. “Lovable serial killer.” Ha ha ha.

And then bodies turn up in real life and it isn’t funny anymore. 

This time, it’s along a beach on Long Island. Our shock blooms as phrases pop out from the news coverage: “at least eight bodies” and “three or even four killers.” We read more — we can’t help it. We’re sickened and disgusted, but we need to know. And the more we know about the scene, the more we really are horrified. The ghastly image of this beach as a dumping ground for bodies is bad enough. But then four of the bodies, wrapped in burlap, are thought to be the work of one person: a serial killer. 

There’s a special sense of dread that comes with that phrase, “serial killer.” It represents an inhuman psychology that is beyond us, and because of that, we can’t look away. 

We can all conceive of killing someone in self-defense, or in combat. But to kill repeatedly, because we want to, because we like to — that’s so far outside ordinary human understanding that we can’t possibly have an empathetic response. The word “evil” seems a bit quaint and biblical — but what else can we call it? 

I was brought up to believe that death and money are private, and I was taught to have only contempt for people who slowed down to gawk at an accident. I can’t help feeling that this is similar — but I watch, too. Have I become what my mother called a rubbernecker and what my father, more bluntly, called an idiot?

Maybe so, but I have lots of company. Not just Americans, either; the Dexter series has been translated into 38 languages, and sensational news of serial killers regularly floods in from Russia, China, all over the world. People everywhere are willing voyeurs to mayhem. And when we learn of serial murders like the recent case at Gilgo Beach, our “dark watcher,” that small part of us that just can’t turn away, perks up and pays attention. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We don’t become evil because we dwell on it. In fact, one reason we gawk is to reassure ourselves that we could never do such a thing. When we stare at carnage we feel fear and revulsion, and that tells us with certainty that creating this kind of horror is beyond us. 

And it is. Serial killers are psychopaths, and current research in brain mapping indicates that psychopaths are born, not made. There is an actual, physical, difference in their brains; you can’t become a serial killer by reading about one, any more than you can get magical powers from reading “Harry Potter.” You can watch “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” 20 times and it will not inspire you to butcher the neighbors. We can no more move from watcher to killer than we can breathe water.
But a homicidal psychopath — a serial killer — delights in killing. He often taunts the rest of us in some way as part of his fun. The evil creature that has been dumping bodies on Gilgo Beach has used his victim’s cellphone to call her sister. 

It’s inhuman cruelty, but the research I read to write my “Dexter” books predicts that, when they catch him, he will probably look just like us. He will be known as a charming and thoughtful co-worker, a nice man who helps his ailing neighbor carry her groceries, and no one will have suspected what he really is. 

This is the theater of paranoia, and it grips us, too, because we need a way to see the clues that must be there. Who among your friends and colleagues might be staring at your back and sharpening a knife? 

You can’t know; but by watching, you know it could never be you. I think that’s good. We can’t deny that evil exists — but it’s not who we are. And the existence of evil implies its opposite: there is good, too. 

As ordinary human beings, we live somewhere in the middle, jerked back and forth by circumstance, never quite reaching either extreme. And if you never understand someone who lives at the evil pole, no matter how much you rubberneck, that’s good.

It means you’re only human.

Jeff Lindsay is the author, most recently, of “Dexter Is Delicious.”


When She Woke book: I cut out this book review “Plausibility makes Jordan's dystopia all the more chilling” by Robert J. Wiersema in the Edmonton Journal on Nov. 6, 2011.  He reviews the book When She Woke by Hillary Jordan.  

This is about women’s rights, pro-choice, and a dystopian thriller without teenagers in it.  There are already a lot of young adults books in a dystopia like The Hunger Games.  This is a strong book review.  I haven’t read the book, but reading this review really made me think:

When Hannah Payne wakes, it is to a prison cell. She has been sentenced to 30 days in solitary confinement, her every move broadcast on television. That is not the full extent of Hannah's punishment, however. Upon her release from prison, everyone who sees her will know, immediately, of the nature of her crime. Her skin has been genetically dyed bright red, and she will live as a Chrome, a walking testament to her transgression, for 16 years.

Hannah's crime? She had an abortion.

In the dystopian American future of Hillary Jordan's new novel When She Woke, abortion is illegal. The country has swung to the far right following a series of terrorist attacks and the Great Scourge (an antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea) which swept across the country, killing and rendering survivors infertile. The religious right seized on the spiritual punishment aspect of the Scourge, and the perils of a declining population, and used the fear to strip women of their rights. In Hannah's world, the Secretary of Faith is at least as powerful as the President, and young women like her are forced to break the law, to seek out makeshift surgeries.

Hannah's imprisonment, however, is only the beginning of the story. Her release from prison marks the start of an exodus that will ultimately transform the young woman, and lay bare to the reader the machinations of a world that is all too plausible and possibly inevitable - given the rhetoric surrounding the upcoming U.S. election. From a faith-based halfway centre (The Straight Path Center) to an underground railroad for Chromes fleeing the United States north to Canada, from the omnipresent computerized tracking Hannah is subject to to the scorn and abuse she receives even from family members, When She Woke is an at times horrific journey through a culture only slightly removed from the present.

To her credit, Jordan never overplays her hand, never resorts to the obvious. Thus, comparisons between the world of When She Woke and contemporary American culture are left implicit, and for the reader to ponder. She focuses, instead, on Hannah's story.

That's a wise choice. Hannah is a brilliantly wrought, compelling character, swept up in forces largely beyond her control. Raised in a religious home, the only act of rebellion for the young seamstress who works at a bridal salon is making beautiful, glamorous dresses that will never be worn. That is, until the day she meets charismatic Reverend Aidan Dale. Hannah falls in love with the clergyman, and the two begin the affair that will end with her procedure, and her trial. When she is asked who the father is of her unborn child during the proceedings (along with the identity of the abortion provider), she refuses to answer, despite the fact that six years will be added to her sentence.

How Hannah reconciles herself with Dale and their relationship is but one component of her burgeoning selfhood, the independence and wisdom she develops and acquires over the course of the novel. Hannah's is a powerful journey, both within and out in the brutal, dystopian world, and one that readers would do well to accompany her on.

Robert J. Wiersema is a writer and bookseller in Victoria. His latest book is Walk Like a Man: Coming of Age with the Music of Bruce Springsteen.


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