Before you start thinking I’m an uncouth young man, there is a reason for today’s post title – which is all about reactions to expletives in books. Oh ok, I also did it because my aunty bet me I wouldn’t dare put a title like that on the blog after we discussed this very subject. But I have because I bet you had an initial reaction to the last word in it.
Language is a powerful thing, including those more, erm, controversial words. I admit that in real life I do swear a bit, not quite like a trooper but one of my favourite words is an expletive… Shocking I know but I just love the way it sounds.
So why does it occasionally jar with me in books? Why do I find myself coming across a certain word in a book and flinch before exclaiming ‘oh gosh and golly’ like an old dame in an Oscar Wilde play?
It happened most recently, that I can remember, when I read ‘Grace Williams Says It Loud’ by Emma Henderson and out of nowhere Grace suddenly let out ‘the c-bomb’ and I admit it made me stop in my reading tracks. I couldn’t work out if it was because of the context it was used in, which was rather graphic, or because it didn’t seem to match the narrative up to that point. Or was I just being a reading prude?
After a small pause, whilst I collected myself, I asked the question ‘was that specific word needed?’ I thought about it and tried said sentence with other alternatives (my face must have been a picture) and could see it wouldn’t have worked. So maybe it was just me being a slight fuddy-duddy in my older reading age?
I discussed it with aforementioned youngest aunty who told me to ‘get over it’ as people in real life swear so what’s the big deal? Quite right, and as you can see from my review it didn’t take away from how much I enjoyed the book. Yet it made me stop and shook me out of the world a little before I carried on again. Im aware that I’ve not really answered my own question here, but I think it’s because there’s no right answer, like certain ‘out there’ subject matter I guess it depends on the book?
What are your thoughts on certain language in novels? Are you not bothered, fine with it when its called for or in a characters nature, or can you simply not abide it? Does it depend on the book?