“Happiness is but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain.”
It may surprise no one that I like my fiction dark with a side of grinding poverty, execution, murder, miscarriage, and animal genitalia related injuries – you know, general death, violence, and misery. Maybe a few dashed dreams here and there.
No wonder Daria is my spirit animal.
Without having previously made the connection – and only tenuously doing so now, at best – my early love of Thomas Hardy may have influenced my love of the may-be-a-genre (or maybe not) grit lit. Because nobody writes with more AMPS – abject misery per sentence – than Thomas Hardy. The Brothers Grimm have nothing on him.
I missed this when it first came out (from The Guardian), but this infographic is brilliant. My apologies if you’ve already seen it – there may be no one more behind the blogging times than me (or more abusive of dashes and parentheses) – but it’s worth a second glance (in my humble opinion).
I know some of you share my love of a well done brutal novel (Andi and Shannon come immediately to mind), but what about the rest of you? Have you ever noticed that brutal, heart-wrenching novels seem to better accepted if they are classics? Jude the Obscure, Wuthering Heights, and The Monk come immediately to mind. Discuss.
8 thoughts on “Bleakness Is My Weakness.”
I enjoy the occasional dark, gritty read, but I can’t handle too many in a row. I love Wuthering Heights, but I’ve yet to read Thomas Hardy; I need to fix that!
Definitely! He was my probably my first classic love (though he has since been surpassed by the Brontes) and a few of his books are free on Amazon (if you have a kindle) for sure and likely on other platforms as well.
Gritty noirish works are definitely the center of my wheelhouse, but I’m not much for classics (as we’ve talked about, every time I see you write Thomas Hardy I think of the actor Tom Hardy – I’m so cultured). I had no idea they were that gritty. I’m not sure where the love for grit comes from. Maybe it’s just yearning for life at it’s bare bonesiest, having my life seem much easier in comparison, that people are more interesting when they’re up against it than when things are smooth sailing. I think the latter is the most influential for me, but I’m sure all come into play.
My answer to this question a year or two ago would probably have been no, but this year I’ve been especially enjoying really brutal grit-litty stuff (Bull Mountain most recently). I also really like emotional gut-drenchers that aren’t necessarily grit litty, but more brutal emotionally (A Little Life most recently). I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read Thomas Hardy yet!
I’m slightly divided about grit lit. It depends on my mood. (But I do always love a good infographic!)
I wonder if Classic grit is more acceptable because the authors were writing to be read between the lines, so to speak. Whereas nowadays we just come out and say what it is that’s happening.
I do like my darker tragedies from time to time but haven’t read a Hardy novel yet. Gonna get on that!
I know you’re talking about all things dark and miserable but this post makes me laugh. You have such a fabulous way with words. And that info graphic is sublime.
I like difficult books but seem to lean more towards contemporary like A Little Life, Room, Mother Mother…and more psychological drama than physical.