“Very Strong Adult Content–Please do not read if offended by strong language or explicit sexual content” is attached to Hugh’s Only Business.
Now, there are two ways I know to react to this sort of advisory. A) Blush, and demurely open your Reader’s Digest app, wondering all the while whatever happened to old fashioned values or B.) Be all over it.
Back in the 80’s, when the Tipper Gore led PRMC or PMRC–whatever the fuck they called themselves–forced record companies to place stickers on albums that contained language stronger than “poop” it was the best thing ever to happen to heavy metal and rap. We’ve been here before with Hugh, in an earlier rerun, but I only again make mention of this because like a pre-information age child looking up cuss words in the dictionary, something caused me to scroll through Hugh’s LS canon for the longest advisory he has ever been tagged with.
I’ve read Only Business and never before or since has such a tag been more richly deserved, that’s what!
But, one other thing…
It’s easy to get caught up in the language and subject matter and find this story immoral. And I suppose that there are the philosophers out there who will call it amoral. It’s neither. When someone is behaving in a moral fashion that someone is usually doing the best for a given situation. What if there’s only one action available? Well, in this world of booze, smack, scheming and perpetually singular behavior there seems to be only one path to follow. It’s pretty much a fated existence for some; might as well have a good time.
Q: I admire your work for its intense honesty. You never back away, and where some might do so, you seem to plunge further into it. When you first began to write of what the Digest readers would call “low life” did you ever find yourself hesitant to go all in?
Q: No less an authority than Dorothy Parker said that “the writer’s job is to report on the world he “lived” in; if that shows disregard for the reader, so be it.” Do you concur?
Hi Leila, thanks so much for choosing another of my stories – It always gives me a kick – As does the questions which I am more than happy to try and answer.
Q1. I think all of us who have spent a bit of time writing more than a few words would always give the same advice to any new writers and that would be to always be honest to your characters and take the story where it takes you.
When you write certain subject matter and you try to manipulate the story into, say, a happy ending, where there never would be one, the alarm bells start ringing. The best way I can describe my take on these stories is that I am delighted that I’ve never heard those bells!
Respect is a weird thought when considering this type of story but you need to respect the situation. Not the outcome, not the initial reasoning, not even the characters, you can have your own thoughts on all of them, (As long as you don’t dip those thoughts into any text) but you have to ‘go all in’ or you are not respecting that these situations happen.
Q.2 Short answer – Yep I agree!
When I first thought on this I thought it would be a long answer all to do with social standing and like for like reading, as in reading your own type of situation and plots around your own lifestyle. Then I realised, it’s a lot simpler than that. We are not a class, we are not a social group, it is all bigger than that. We all inhabit this world so we should have an overall view of it. If that view makes us uncomfortable that may say more about us than those specific topics that make us uncomfortable.
I don’t think when we write we ever show disregard to the reader, the reader can show disregard to their own conscience.
It can be argued that sensibilities are a curtain to hide behind.
Thanks again Leila, I always find these a blast to do. It is very interesting to try and think of reasoning etc and try to remember if that was the reasoning initially!!