Allan Guthrie's "Hard Man"
I don't know the substance of the debate about torture porn and crime fiction, but I know the debate exists or existed, and I know Guthrie's name has come up. So here's why I think that whatever torture porn may be, Guthrie's not guilty of it here.
First, the book does contain a scene of torture that may be unpleasant reading for some, but it does not invite the reader's prurient interest. It is neither gratuitous, frivolous nor out of character. The lengthy narrative of escape from the torture is refreshingly low-key, straightforward in its detailed description of the agonizing lengths to which the characters must go to effect their escape. And those lengths are great, which makes the scene heroic.
And violence in this novel, torture and otherwise, has its consequences. Guthrie told Spinetingler Magazine that:
"I believe that writing's about creating sensory experiences. If a character's eating a hamburger, I want the reader to taste it. So if a character's in pain, I want the reader to feel it. Violence in my books always hurts. And it always has a lasting effect. None of this getting knocked unconscious and waking up two minutes later with a little bump that's completely forgotten about ten seconds later. That annoys me almost as much as gratuitous scenery. I also try to write from the point of view of the victim where possible. But even my aggressor's get hurt. Hit somebody with your bare fist and you're liable to break a finger. In my books, anyway."
I'd say that makes Guthrie a pretty morally serious guy — especially considering how much (dark) humor the book contains.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009