Tragedy is mundane
Once upon a time there was a person who struggled with adversity -- and lost. They lost their loved ones, saw their hopes and dreams dashed, got humiliated and hurt, possibly killed -- all for no good reason, achieving nothing. The end.
Did you like the story? No? Well, this happens every day in the real world. Stories of pointless suffering and cruelty are typical of real human lives. And I'm not interested in fictional accounts along these lines. I feel betrayed and disappointed when an author introduces a sympathetic main character, places them in a quandary, and makes them lose.
For instance, take a plot thread from China Miéville's celebrated Perdido Street Station (2000). Spoiler warning.
Once upon a time there was a struggling artist who received a commission to make a statue of a crime boss. She worked hard and it looked like the piece would become her greatest achievement ever. But while she was working, the boss erroneously got the impression that the artist's lover was trying to muscle in on his turf. He then imprisoned the artist and had his henchmen starve, beat, rape and mutilate her. After weeks of this, she was rescued by her lover, only to be attacked by a soul-sucking monster that left her severely mentally handicapped and unable to care for herself. The statue was left unfinished. The boss continued his business. The end.
Like it? I don't. I think it's a pointless, cruel, realistic story. I like fiction that is not like the real world with its mundane randomness. I want redemption, wrongs righted, and just deserts for all.
[More blog entries about books, literature, fiction, tragedy.]