Whenever I read a novel with a tough-as-nails protagonist, I wince. Or really, it's more than wincing. I lower my head (metaphorically) and glower (also metaphorically). It always seems like posturing to me, particularly when it's first person and involves a lot of sleeping around and drinking. Particularly, I have to shamefacedly admit, when the protagonist is a woman doing these things. It feels a bit "I think thee doth protest too much." I feel, too, in my self-centered defensive way, like the character is indirectly calling me out, saying "You're weak and soft."
So it was with great resistance that I got through the first chapter of the terribly titled The Scamp.
First of all, let's look at what an image search for The Scamp turns up:
Now let's take a look at The Scamp I actually read.
Yes, in addition to a terrible title it is a terrible cover. (The faint of heart should be assured that The Scamp in fact refers to the name of a camper type trailer, not to a person.)
But here's the thing: the tough-girl voice pissed me off. The cover pissed me off. Everything about this book pushed me into a state of powerful resistance, which meant I had to complain to poor Aragorn, son of Arathorn, "I hate this book, it's just the kind of book I hate. I mean honestly, fine, so you drink too much, so you're really cool and tough…" while he (maybe not so patiently) wondered why I kept reading it then.
But I kept reading. And at some point I must have let my guard down, because I ended up being captivated by it. It's sort of a mystery, but not really a mystery. It's a love story and a road trip and a strange and compelling voyage through a world I don't know or understand at all. And all of a sudden I was in that place where I kept looking for moments when I could read it some more.
This is why I read every book all the way through—in the hopes that I'll find out the problem is really me, and once I open myself amazing things can happen. Note: Your results may vary. But still. It's just nice to get over yourself every once in a while, isn't it?
2 thoughts on “Resistance Is Futile. But Relevant.”
You know what? I would never have read The Scamp because it’s a lesbian serial killer novel, and — well — that says it all. Or so I thought. Then I actually met the writer and HAD DINNER WITH HER. I LOVED her and loved what she read at a reading here in Los Angeles. I read the book and loved it, too.
Yes! It’s crazy! It is a lesbian serial killer novel, but that is not at all what it is also, because it’s first and foremost a story. So cool you had dinner with her.