Friday, March 13, 2009

First, let me share with any interested parties that Iwill be making a presentation about The Pilate Plot at the Malvern (OH) Rotary, March 30, 6:30 PM. Then let me share a little more about my atheist friend's critique of the book. By the way - George's full review is up on his blog I issue the same warnings as before - Christians will not find George's blog particularly enjoyable. In addition to not caring for Nathaniel Stone's dialect, George felt that the 'razor sharp' focus on the torture of Brian Stearnes amounted to 'violence porn' (that term appeared in notes George sent to me rather than in his official review.) George said he read the torture segments since he didn't want to miss any key ideas and subsequently wished he hadn't read them. In other words - George feels that the torture segments are harmful to the reader and should be deleted. I am quick to admit that The Pilate Plot includes darkness. It's in the book because I believe in the existence of evil as a personal force in fallen humanity. I believe in both heaven and hell breaking out on earth here and now. George would insist that the message could have been carried without the details of the torture. Maybe he's right. What do you think?


george.w said...

Terry, just to clarify, I did not say the details of the torture were harmful to the reader; they were harmful to your story. Some readers do not enjoy graphic descriptions of torture. They aren't harmed by the description, but the fact of torture is very different from the grisly details which are, pardon the expression, overkill. Many readers avoid such depictions.

Suppose you have a scene in a movie where we see a man and woman going into an apartment at night, and in the morning, they're making breakfast. We know they spent the night together. Then imagine the director had included thirty minutes showing close-up detail of their night together. Two very different movies, no? One is romance, the other pornography.

Now apply the same principle to torture. In the movie Star Wars, we see Han Solo being pulled into a torture machine, and we hear him scream in the distance. We know that unspeakably awful things are happening to him. We see his exhaustion afterward. It carried the story quite well without spending half an hour with every grinding detail.

Hence the term; "violence porn".

Readers can find my review here - Book Review: The Pilate Plot, by Terry Bailey.

Terry Bailey said...

Hey George,

Thanks for the clarification - but I'm not sure I take the distinction entirely seriously. If the story is harmed because some particular readers don't 'enjoy' certain themes or levels of detail - then the harm rests in the reader. If other readers love those details and themes, then the story is not harmed? It all rests on an unpleasant (or worse) experience for the reader, i.e. harm to the reader. Rest assured, I do take the larger issue seriously. I certainly assert that pornography is harmful to partakers whether or not they enjoy it. If I become convinced that the level of detail I supplied concerning the torture of Brian Stearnes is harmful, you can bet there will be no similar details in future works. If it's only a matter of individual enjoyability, I guess I'll have to take a poll. Always the pesky difference between relativism and absolutism! Always glad to hear from you.


andrew said...

I find that I have to agree with George philosophically. Excessive violence and excessive sexuality are equitable in my mind in the effect that they have on the reader. However, I have to disagree that the description of torture in the Pilate Plot was in any way "excessive." There was no spurting blood or severed head nor any other cheesy gore-gimmick. Terry made the larger point that real evil was at work while building credibility for the change in Stearnes' character. To that end I would say that deleting the chapter or brushing by it would have, in itself, hindered the story.

Chris Neal said...

I have to agree with George in this case. The story did not benefit from the graphic description of the torture, and this kind of description would definitely prevent most publishers from publishing the novel. Overall I thought the novel was excellent, and of course you can't keep all the people happy all the time.