Friday, August 15, 2008

P.D. James, the writer of long detective novels, has no sense of humor, as a writer, so there's this whole world of characters with not sense of humor. Makes the long books longer.

I never in particular noticed the lack of humor until her main character, Adam Dagliesh, a high-ranking London detective, is described as not permitting any jokes about the corpse at murder sites. This in "The Murder Room," where the victim was murdered, burned to death in a particularly gruesome and unlikely way.

When the book was scolding about joke making in the prescence of horror, I flipped out of the book's reality for a minute and got judgemental myself, thinking,"Come one, P.D. James, your the one who imagined a corpse in this condition."

She might have been feeling a competitive strain. Since the best selling novels of Patricia Cornwell, who actually worked in government figuring out what had happened to dead bodies, and describes dead bodies in extensive details in her books, the ick, or realistic, factor in corpse description has increased across the field.

Murder isn't funny, but it often includes something about humans that also contributes to humor--a lack of a sense of proportion. Life is heck, and then you rot.