Ann Parker here, flying in late on her Tuesday (it's Tuesday already??? Really???) on the topic of "how dark is too dark?" regarding fiction.
I don't know if I can add much to Michael Black's very thoughtful post of yesterday. As a police officer, he's seen the dark and violent side of reality way more than most of us.
Looked through a certain (dark) glass, the world is an unjust, violent place, full of cruelty and just downright depressing. Perusing dark fiction might help a reader "tame" this viewpoint: When put on the printed page, cruelty and violence is distanced from the real thing and safely contained within ink and paper (or, if on an ereader, in e-ink and a screen). Too, most crime fiction provides some kind of closure and justice (not all stories do this, but most do).
As for myself, I can't read too dark. I don't mind stories with morally-ambiguous protagonists, and in fact find them interesting. Thus, traditional noir, with its dark views of life, I can handle. However, story-telling that involves enthusiastic descriptions of deep violence and details of torture are enough for me to do a little violence myself by tossing said books to the ground or swiping the electronic files straight into the electronic trash or into my e-file labelled "Yuck" on my ereader.
But to each their own. Obviously there is a need, an appetite for this kind of crime fiction, just as there is an equally voracious appetite for crime fiction featuring fluffy cats, doughnuts, cozy coffee klatches, and crimes tucked safely off-screen and only referred to obliquely, as well as everything between the two ends of the spectrum.
So, dark, light, or grey... there is something for every reader to read and something that every writer can write.
How lucky we are!
--> NOTE: LOOKING FOR RECOMMENDATIONS OF NOIR (AND OTHER) FILMS
My Netflix queue is empty! The horror of it all! If you have suggestions for some good crime fiction films (old, new, noir or not), please leave a comment and I'll add it to my list. Thank you!