Scent in writing

I’m reading Perfume: The story of a murderer, by Patrick Suskind, and am impressed with the amount of detail he’s put into describing smells. It is an underused sense, in writing, and maybe that is part of why it seems so amazing, but I’m really being drawn into the strange way this character perceives the world.

Scents are so varied, and so strongly tied to memory and emotion, that it’s a wonder they aren’t more widely used in descriptions. People are just so visual in everything we do, that the other senses get overwhelmed…

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What I want to read…

I’ve been reading Burial Rites by Hannah Kent with a book club I just started with some friends. It’s much more enjoyable to read a book when you have people to discuss it with, but how can anyone ever get their friends to read the same books… if you’re even fortunate enough to have friends who read at all!

So we each submitted some choices, and voted on those choices (can’t vote for your own submissions!) and ended up with a book that everyone at least kind of wanted to read. Success! It wasn’t my top choice, but I was interested!

The novel is based on the true story of an Icelandic woman sentenced to death for murder in 1829, and her last days living on a farm with a family, who are tasked with watching over her while she waits her execution.

This sounded appealing to me, because I always am curious about the mind states of people in extreme situations. What would it be like, knowing you are doomed to die, awaiting the inevitable end day by day… Because it is like a magnified version of all our lives, all will end, all will end definitely, but we pretend they won’t. I find myself curious of what it would be like when you can’t pretend anymore.

I’m about 40% done with it now, and while it is an intriguing read, it’s not what I’d hoped it would be. The story seems to focus more on the family’s perception of her, and her interactions with a priest, and doesn’t delve much into her internal feelings on death. Not so far anyway. It seems to be more about perceptions, and how we decide a person is one way, just because of what others say of them, or judge their entire life and being all based on a single action, a single mistake.

An interesting read so far!

 

Mind Hunter

I finished this disturbing series on Netflix recently, and for anyone interested in crime or serial killers, this is a must-watch.

What stuck with me most, though was how they so expertly build up the uneasy anxiety when in the room with these killers. Even though (or perhaps, because) the interviewees speak and act for the most part like normal human beings, there is a tensity, and sense of needing to get the hell out of there is so strong in each of the interviews, that I found myself leaning forward in my seat and clenching my hands. The effect is memorable and unsettling.

I don’t know if it was a movie magic effect, or just my own perceptions, or something somehow conjured by the actor–but Edmund Kemper’s eyes are so dead and empty. And when that emptiness is juxtaposed with the jovial and friendly way that he speaks about murder and rape… the result is sickeningly effective.

The final scene of the final episode really magnifies what I’m talking about…

A great show, recommended!

Mass shooting in [city], [number] dead

It is the deadliest shooting in US history, until next month.

Are the American people okay with this? Each week and month and year that goes by with nothing being done tells me that most are.

Imagine a world in which you can buy a tank at your local car dealership. Imagine in this world, that every month or so some crazy gets their tank on credit with no license or training, and that same day drives through his local neighborhood crushing cars and people and shooting houses until the military can get there to stop him.

Well, that is a lot of death and damage caused all the time, constantly, by crazy or evil or bigoted people getting into tanks.

But, we can’t do anything about that, can we? I need to have my right to buy and drive a tank responsibly if I want to. Not having to be licensed or trained or evaluated in any way when I want to go buy my second or third tank in the future, is much more important to me than making sure only responsible people own tanks. You see, if any kind of control over tank-buying is put in place, everyone might lose their right to own tanks at all!

It’s just something we have to live with, in a free world where everyone can own tanks and drive them in public.

Well you know what? I don’t want to live in a world where everyone can own their own tank, or rocket launcher or bandoleer of grenades. And I don’t want to live in a world where everyone owns a gun.

Call me whatever names you want, call me unpatriotic, call me a liberal snowflake, call me angry or scared or call me fascist or call me socialist. But the less tanks there are, the less crushed cars and destroyed houses there are. The less hand grenades there are, the less explosions there are. The less flame throwers there are, the less house-fires and melted people there are.

And the less guns there are, the less shootings there will be.

Repulsive beings

I’m still reading The Talented Mr. Ripley and the character, Tom, has now murdered someone and is in the process of taking over their life.

The descriptions of him trying on the persons clothes, shoes, jewelry, is somehow disgusting. I don’t know what it is in the writing that gave me this uneasy feeling of disgust toward Tom, he seemed a repulsive, slimy thing slipping into a nice persons skin. In the same scene, not only is he trying on the clothes, but he is ‘trying on’ the dead man’s personality, so to speak, practicing impersonating him. Finding that he likes this person more than himself. Something about the whole thing just gave me an unclean, gross feeling even though the author didn’t use any overtly gross words. It was a very memorable and impressive scene. I may have to read it over again to try to pinpoint what exactly it was that gave me that feeling.

Crime and Punishment

An exciting psychological thriller? A philosophical thinkpiece on morality? A tragedy? Mystery? All of these?

I quite enjoyed Crime and Punishment if you can’t tell. Some of the conversations were very intense, and ambiguous too–I was so intent on Rodion’s interactions with Porfiry, I could not decide whether he knew or not! It was so well done. I also just now learned that my favorite TV detective, Columbo was based on Porfiry! No wonder I loved those scenes so much…

This was a really amazing and entertaining book, and if you haven’t read it, or only read it in highschool, I highly recommend giving it a go!

Can pantsers write mysteries?

I’ve always wanted to write a murder mystery. I’m a big fan of Columbo, Poirot, Jessica Fletcher and all the other sleuths. I’ve often felt the desire to create my own detective, but am held back by the perceived complexity of writing a mystery, and my own improvisational writing style.

In other words, I feel like a pantser can’t write a good murder mystery.

If I, a hardcore pantser, were to write a mystery, I probably wouldn’t know who the killer was till halfway or more through the book. With all the clues and motivations that are required, I feel intimidated and unsure I’d be able to pull it off.

My character would be awesome though!

But I think most people are drawn to murder mysteries by the idea of being able to solve them, and I am not sure how good at that I’d be…

Any pantsers out there write mystery? How difficult is it?