I wanted to write a review of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption today. However, my wife is now reading the book so I’m going to drop back and punt. No, I’m not going to write about football or Peanuts.
On Sunday, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I wrote about books with heart. Today I’m going to write books that have little or no heart, where the life blood is drained from them. When I think of such books, what immediately comes to mind are crime noir books.
At the top of that list would be the Parker series by Richard Stark, one of the pen names of the late Donald E. Westlake. Parker is such a bad character that, according to The Violent World of Parker, a website devoted to all things Parker, he isn’t even an anti-hero, but is a non-hero. After reading only a few of the novels, I think that accurately describes him. You don’t root for him or against him, but you are intrigued by the methodical way he operates and the way that Westlake/Stark draws his character.
Since February is Black History Month, another such book that readily comes to my mind is Native Son by Richard Wright. The protagonist/antagonist in this one is Bigger Thomas, whom Wright describes as a “brute Negro.” He is a murderer and a rapist, but the way in which Wright tells the story is incredibly compelling.
Lastly, even though it’s been quite a number of years since I’ve read it, I’d include In Cold Blood by Truman Capote among my short list of books with little or no heart. It is crime writing, fiction or nonfiction, at its best.
So when you think of books that have little or no heart, what books do you think of? What books would have you on such a list?