I recently caught up to a much-acclaimed movie that I had missed when it arrived in theaters last year and came away wondering what all the fawning critics were thinking of when they praised it to the heavens. The movie was so full of improbable events and exaggerated characters that I just couldn’t take it seriously. One character in particular was portrayed as a violent, and intellectually challenged cretin through 90 percent of the film, but by the end had abruptly – and jarringly – changed 180-degrees to a savvy hero.
No … no way. I’m not believing this.
My disappointment got me to thinking of the many times I’d taken a book I had invested my time in, only to fling the damned thing across the room because I’d run smack into a wall of disbelief.
My wife devours mystery novels, but I avoid them. Too many times I’ve been disappointed by denouements that wrapped up the case using characters or clues that hadn’t been mentioned anywhere in the previous pages.
For me, a story is also ruined by a character who abruptly acts out-of-character. “Tis’ a far better thing I do …” without any foundation, but rather a sudden decision to stick one’s neck in the guillotine because it seemed like a good idea at the time, just makes me bitter for wasting my time.
It makes me suspect the writer got lazy after failing to tie up loose ends.
It’s also disrespectful to the reader, since the writer seems to think they’re idiots and won’t notice the glaring improbability.
Erotica asks readers to suspend disbelief to a degree even beyond what readers of science fiction or fantasy are willing to allow. Science fiction and fantasy asks us to believe in worlds that could exist. The important word there is could.
But erotica asks us to believe unlikely erotic encounters could happen in this world. And since we all live in this world, we all have a sense of what’s likely, unlikely, or just wishful thinking.
That’s why straight stroke stories never appealed to me, particularly the kind where two absolute strangers decide to go at it on the spur of the moment. Forget the mile-high club, too; what, with all the news about passengers groped on airliners?
I realize it’s fiction, but as G.B. Shaw once said, if it’s fiction, you can believe every word is true. Um … unless I can’t.