Victim Lit

When was the last time I read a book in one day? I don't know. I forget. I know I've spent a lot of days marking lately. Too many. I hate June. Every kid suddenly realizes, "Hey, I'm graduating (I know, I know, I've known this for ten months) and I need my English mark. Here are eighteen assignments--can you mark them tonight? If not, I won't graduate, won't go to university, won't get a job and it will be all your fault!" Maybe some of these kids shouldn't go to university. Seriously. Take a few years off. Drink without paying thousands in tuition.

So I took Sunday off from the marking and read Towelhead, about an American girl who moves in with her Lebanese-American dad and proceeds to discover Playboy, racism, masturbating, orgasms, rape, sex, the (first) war in Iraq and good and bad neighbours. Did I mention it's another example of victim lit? Yet another passive female narrator. Sigh. Lullabies for Little Criminals, the American version. I find it problematic that so many women and girls in literature and movies get raped. I don't think rape is entertaining. So why are these stories so compelling? Why does victim lit sell?

Course, before she gets raped, almost the first half of the book focuses on the main character's discovery of masturbation and orgasms. Holy crap that was a lot of masturbating. Then, wham, rape, and, you know, it made me feel a bit off. Yet I couldn't put the book down. I finished it in one day. It was a damned easy read. I know some people think this is a mark of good literature, but a metaphor or two would have been nice.

And that was the big problem--not the masturbating, not the rape, but the simple, childish voice. She's thirteen. She sounded like she was six. What thirteen-year-old growing up in the U.S. is this sheltered? Growing up in the U.S. off a Mormon farm, that is.

Ok, and the rape was bad too. A girl discovers her sexuality and she gets raped, i.e. female sexuality should be punished. I'm surprised she wasn't murdered, got pregnant and/or got hooked on heroin. But then again, not everyone can write Lullabies for Little Criminals.