Sunday, April 11, 2010

Enough with the heart attacks

Two recents authors (both of whom I adore) have had their protagonists suffer heart attacks. I am now asking for a moratorium on this convention, precisely because I think it IS becoming a convention and it's a wee bit deux et machina for me. I have noticed that both these writers are men, and I'm wondering if this is something men think about. Of course, women think about breast cancer (which to my mind is much more insidious and possibly life threatening, as opposed to a heart attack which is--in most cases although not all--a wake-up call).

So. Yo. Male authors. No more heart attacks. It's becoming cliche.


Anonymous said...

Claire, I agree. Along with heart attacks, it seems we now have a lot of brain tumors, cancer, and other deadly disease taking out one character after another - much of it gratuitous and outside the plot or the resolution. Recent book that was a good (if not best) seller had the main character die at the end from cancer for no reason whatsoever other than retribution for finally working out her problems and helping a few others to do the same! Maybe authors are simply feeding into our culture's obsession with bad health.

Claire M. Johnson said...

Response to Anonymous: Part of it I think is that plots, in general, are taking a page from these memoirs whose primary goal is to shock. Think of all these memoirs where authors made up these horrendously abusive childhoods; like alcoholism isn't *enough*. for parents. General sadness and loneliness just aren't *enough* anymore. We have to kill people off now. It's not enough just to write a decent story. I wonder how many authors are in horrible meetings with their editors and conversations go something like this: "You know, this is beautifully written, but do you think you could, like throw in a car accident? Hmmm, your protage doesn't drive. How about cancer. How about a really good case of cancer? No, okay, a heart attack." It's like calamity poker for novelists. I'll see your prostate cancer with by-pass surgery and coding on the table three times.

Oh for the days when good writing was enough. I think this weakens a book considerably.