Friday, 12 August 2011

UK Riots, True Blood and Sookie Stackhouse

Did you riot?
If not, why not?
Reading and Rioting (Ha!) are so incompatible that a big bookstore in Manchester, Waterstones,  posted on Twitter about it. On Wednesday, when chaos loomed, they wrote 'we're staying open, if they steal some books they might learn something.'
But they didn't.
Maybe reading -  and especially reading a lot - makes you more likely to see things from somebody else's point of view. You spend 300 pages looking at the world through someone else's eyes and you get good at it. You think about what it feels like to be them, and you know that it can't be good for their shop to be smashed in, their livelihood stolen, their restaurant burned down, their community ruined.
So you don't do it.

Of course there's different ways of seeing things from other peoples point of view. In 'Dead until Dark' by Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse can see right INTO other peoples minds. She reads them. What's really interesting, though, is that she hates it. It embarrasses her and she tries not to do it.
So many stories have characters mind-reading for advantage that it's a real breathe of fresh air to find a character who is so NICE that she never even considers it.
Sookie is the biggest strength of the story. The setting - the rural deep south - is strong too. The plot meanders a little, and is a bit improbable - even for paranormality (so many murders). Overall, though, I have to come back to Sookie. She's a barnstorming creation and 'Dead until Dark' is worth reading for her alone.
For all her mind reading skills, though, I doubt even Sookie Stackhouse could work out REALLY why people did such horrible things in London, Manchester, and Birmingham this week. Politicians are trying, a good attempt is made by RUSSELL BRAND, here, but the bookstore staff had as good a try as  any. We're not learning enough, understanding enough, reading enough.
Speaking of which, there will be a bit more reading available in September, when my book 'Song to Wake to' is published. In the meantime I'd be really grateful if you could help me out and - if you haven't already - HAVE A QUICK VOTE. Thanks.

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