I read this and it reminded me of when I saw the real life tragedy section in WH Smiths. When I worked for Ottakar’s, you could see the invasion of this kind of book. Full of abuse, rape, torture etc. People couldn’t get enough of their Pelzers et al.

What made me interested in this, is why do readers like to read real life accounts of such incidents, yet there’s a tendency for them to want, in most genres of fiction, characters they love and want to be able to ‘relate to’, whatever the hell that really means anyway. (Some cultural bruising in the psyche, perhaps.) There’s a general desire to read about likeable characters. Loveable characters. Funny and warm and bubble-bath characters.

Are there two completely different types of people buying these ‘real life tragedy’ books and fiction? Why not have more gritty fiction sold in the mainstream mass market? Stuff that’s true to real life, and true to actual character? It seems that it’s okay for something to be abusive and cruel in text form with the general public so long as it’s in real life stories.

I dare say marketing departments have something to do with this. Or is fiction for many some kind of wish-fulfilment? Seems to me that the real tragedy is that fiction can’t be as daring and taboo-pushing as real life. Calling all editors…

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.