Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I read someone once - I think it was Barbara Kingsolver - saying that killing people is so bad, you shouldn't even do it in fiction unless you have a really, really good reason.

I was reminded of this today as I finished my slog through Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination, a disappointingly irritating terrorist-thriller-chick-lit book by Helen Fielding, who did much better on the Bridget Jones books. One of many, many problems with the book was that she just kept throwing in terrorist attacks in which tons of people died. Even if they're not real people, it doesn't seem right. There are enough real horrible terrorist attacks - must we invent more, gratuitously?

Not that I want to prohibit people from making things up for fiction. I like fiction. Maybe I'm just annoyed because the book wasn't very good. There's a reason there are conventions in spy thrillers; they work. You can throw out a few, but if you go overboard, it stops holding together.

Anyway, these musings on terrorist attacks seemed particularly relevant today, when I read the headlines about the train bombings in Bombay and caught myself wondering, not for the first time, if there's maybe another planet I could move to, or am I stuck with this one? Alternatively, I might be interested in aligning myself with a different species. Chimps, perhaps. They may not have DVD players and concert choirs, but at least they don't blow each other up with freaking explosives.

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