Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Wed Feb 05 14:20:14 EST 1992

Raymond's Reviews #167

%T The Quick
%A Burt Cole
%I Avon
%D December 1991
%O paperback, US$4.99
%P 294
%G ISBN 0-380-71178-8

Just as the human sex drive motivates both a genre of art (called erotica) and reams of mindless trash we call `pornography', the human fondness for vicarious violence gives rise to some high art and a vast wasteland of garbage that's been called `carnography'.

Most carnography (like most pornography) is pretty silly one you get past the hook. But (again like pornography) it can provide a useful catharsis for healthy individuals, the species has survived thousands of years of continuous employment of the stuff, and one is justified in looking with deep suspicion at the motives and agendas of people who call for it to be suppressed.

It's never been difficult for me to be libertarian about pornography, because the notion that pictures of people getting it on could somehow warp other peoples' brains seemed so transparently ludicrous. As well censor pictures of people eating...

Carnography's different, though. There's actually substantial evidence that vicarious violence can desensitize people to the real stuff. Nevertheless, my belief in everyone's right to go to hell in their own way is sufficiently strong that I oppose censorship of this stuff, too.

Every once in a while, though, I run across an example of carnography so repellent, so unredeemed by any spark of idea content, so...evil that I'm tempted to abandon my convictions just this once. The Quick is just such a novel.

The protagonist --- the person we're encouraged to identify with, mind you --- is a stone sociopath who kills and guts his victims for fun. His casual, amoral manipulation and destruction of everyone around him is simply wallowed in for most of the novel, and then tossed off via some weak mysticism appealing finally to that ultimate philosophical cop-out, solipsism.

And that's basically all there is to this book; ugliness, ugliness, and more ugliness, leading up to a denouement so bleak and stomach-turning that even most nihilists would pale and avert their eyes.

Not only should you not buy this book, you should tell your friends not to buy it. I devoutly hope the author will sink back into his hole and never be heard from again.

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Wed Feb 05 14:20:14 EST 1992

Eric S. Raymond <esr@snark.thyrsus.com>