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A short list of books with little or no heart for after Valentine’s Day

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?

11 responses to “A short list of books with little or no heart for after Valentine’s Day

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  2. What do you mean by life blood drained from them? I found In Cold Blood to be such a good book because of the way that Capote basically became obsessed with the murders and the murderers. Definitely some heart–just really messed up heart. *shivers*

    • Well, yes, when I say “life blood drained from them,” I should qualify that I don’t mean “story drained from them,” because definitely, In Cold Blood was a compelling story.

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  4. I don’t know that I’d call the books themselves soul-less, but I think the Hunger Games Trilogy is a really excellent dissertation on how children respond to violence. It’s certainly set in a soul-crushing future dystopia. Of all of the books I’ve read recently, it’s funny that a trilogy of books written for young adults has made me think more about important things than most of the stuff written for “grown ups.”

    • I agree that they are excellent, especially the first one of the series. However, for me, they wouldn’t qualify as being “heartless” since there was that silly romance stuff thrown in there. 🙂 When I think of books with “little or no heart,” I think of books that are just so devoid of any meaning or soul at all, but that still are written so well that you can’t put them down.

  5. A Weekend In December by Sebastian Faulks is soulless. And not in a good way.

  6. Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy.