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voracious reader. In my younger years, I sought out novels fraught with socio- political commentary and historic overtones. Now, when friends recommend a book, I simply ask, “Does it have a happy ending?” I have reached a stage in my life where I want to read books that give me pleasure. I no longer want to wander through a literary landscape featuring torture, man’s inhumanity to man, genocide, greed, corruption, women being raped or children dying. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is good example of


books I now avoid.


Unbroken is the true story of Louis Zamperini, a promising Olympic runner, whose quest for the gold is interrupted by World War II. Zamperini ends up in a Japanese prisoner camp. When the torture scenes began, I closed the book. I sought refuge in Liane Moriarty’s novel, The Husband’s Secret, an


engaging mystery set


in modern day Australia. I found Moriarty’s characters so much more enjoyable than “the Bird”, the Japanese soldier who brutalized Zamperini. Given my literary preference for the good and my


aversion to the bad and the ugly, I fi nd it amazing that I enjoy A Song of Ice and Fire, a series of fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin. For those of you living under a rock, A Song of Ice and Fire is the wildly popular tale of royal families in mythical kingdoms from an era resembling the Dark Ages. The fi rst installment of the series, A Game of Thrones, is over 700 pages long. The book offers every vice I now avoid in novels: murder, torture, rape and violence. I keep a map of the various kingdoms nearby as I read because the geography of the mythical world is confusing. The same is true of the characters. I need a directory to remember Daenerys Targaryen is the sister of Viserys and she is married to Drogo of the nomadic Dothraki (eating the beating heart of a dead stallion is one of the quaint Dorthraki customs). There is no point in memorizing the characters as they get knocked off fairly regularly. Despite the violence, the abhorrent treatment of women, and the sheer brutality of those dastardly Lannisters, I read A Game of Thrones in less than 3 days. The bottom line is that it is well-written and a darn good


tale. The story moves at a blistering pace and regularly features unexpected twists and turns. When events get too gory or too brutal, I fl ip forward a few pages. The violence in A Game of Thrones is easier for me to accept because it is science fi ction. In her book The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd creates the character of a young slave girl in the 1800’s who is maimed for some meaningless offense, The episode literally turned my stomach. When


a


mythical character in A Game of Thrones is tossed from a castle window, I cringe but keep reading. There is no historical fact underlying the events of A Game of Thrones. Reading novels that are refl ective of actual historic occurrences—like the mistreatment of slaves in the United States or the torture of prisoners-of-war in World War II—strike too close to home. I simply do not want to revisit these terrible times and endure the emotional consequences. I plan to read other volumes of A Song of Ice and Fire but not until Martin fi nishes writing the series and I can learn the answer to my most important literary inquiry: “Does it have a happy ending?”


Give me a happy ending, please By Lyn Widmyer


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