Call it lazy, call it a sale, but this post is a twofer. Misery by Stephen King and Dirty Wars by Jeremy Scahill were my reading goals this week. I am still plugging away with Dirty Wars, much longer than Misery (a rarity with a King novel), but Misery is done. Both books had me thinking about the depths of human depravity and human cruelty. Misery is a work of horror, but yet it is Dirty Wars that have freaked me out more. Most times reading about some monster (even the creepy-crawly spider thing that was It) is a lot easier than reading about the horrors that humans inflict on themselves.
Misery, as I’m sure everyone already knows, is the story of an author who wrecks his car and is rescued and held prisoner by his most psychotic number one fan. She burns his manuscript of a new book, and convinces him to bring her favorite character back to life. In the months that he is a prisoner in her house, she feeds him drugs, makes him drink dirty water, an even amputates several body parts. She is a nutter, make no mistake, but she’s crazy. She’s murdered before and plans to do the same with the author, but only after she had a chance to finish his last story.
Misery is a microcosm of cruelty. Sure, one could argue that Annie Wilkes’s reign of terror wasn’t so micro, but all of her evil acts could and would have been stopped if she had been caught early enough. Misery was hard to read, especially the third act when Paul starts to really crack up. The death of the lawman by riding lawnmower, however, made me roll my eyes. It was gross and disturbing, but I reacted such because not two days earlier I had watched a Watchmojo video on YouTube which talked about horror movie cliches, the inept and shortly dead police man was one of them.
if Misery is a microcosm of depravity, Dirty Wars is the macrocosm, and all the more disturbing because it is not a work of fiction like Misery, but an investigative report of the wars engaged in by the Americans post-9/11. It is a 521 page explanation of how the US went from having to authorize each and every targeted killing mission, to giving the whole process carte blanche. In public the politicians and bureaucrats were denouncing atrocities like Abu Ghraib, while covertly authorizing such atrocities.
It is disturbing in the least to think that any government would sanction torture in today’s world. it is even more disturbing to think that the US is acting as the biggest bully in the playground, throwing their weight around to deal with a problem they started in the first place. Power corrupts, and boy oh boy is that in display in Dirty Wars. Sickening.