Any strong emotion is difficult to portray; there's always the risk of overdoing it and ending up telling the reader what to feel. Like hallucinatory states, it’s an extra challenge to translate the reality of terror into language. True terror is a psychotic state where words have little currency. How do we begin to describe the all-engulfing fear, the belief – rational or otherwise – that our life is about to end?
Suppose a writer brave, or masochistic, enough does manage to find the right words, readers may not be so eager to devour them. Despite the horrors on the nightly news, we like to delude ourselves our own world is secure. Yes, life has its ups and downs, its joys and griefs, but, particularly for those of us cocooned in the West, we assume that, once we’re grown, nothing could be so bad as to make us shit our pants and start howling for our mothers.
it was the very fact of his inability to witness and perhaps control events that drives Iosif to such extreme psychological distress. I hoped to convey this distress to the reader and allow them to fill in off stage action with their own imaginings
Every instinct of the body is to recoil from pain, but they allowed us no escape. An awful sense of powerlessness grew steadily, as though I were inhaling a great breath of air and was unable to stop. The horror became overwhelming, and from some hidden place in my mind I felt a darkness, something huge and unnameable, begin to form ... I would wonder how many days I had been tormented, only to find, on being returned to the cell, that I had been gone no more than an hour or two.
all the love and buzz and satisfactions of his life could not compensate for how it was to end. Dragged behind that car at forty miles an hour, skin flayed and bones splintered. Thirty-seven years of connections and commitments whittled down to a trail of scrappy body parts on a dirt road in a land deprived of care. He had no thoughts. No memories. No pictures of better times to steer him through his final moments.
the noise of them others being tortured gans straight to your gut. So it might as well be you who’s having your head pushed into a bucket of shit, or the soles of your feet burnt wi’ cigarettes. It might as well be happening to you when the screaming gans inside you.
In the meantime, what’s your take on this?