Yesterday I began my little defense of literary fiction. I basically said (a) if I want to read something touching, I like it to be delivered with subtlety; and (b) that while I can enjoy moustachio villains, bad coincidences, and sadistism in 80s entertainment lit, I resent it when an author mingles these elements with Serious Topics. Now onto the to-be spoilered Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. FYI I read the graphic novel adaptation.
The Kite Runner is about a boy Amir and his servant friend Hassan before the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Hassan professes undying fealty to his little lordling, and one day is cornered by bullies while retrieving the kite that'll show our protag won a kite contest. Of course--because we all know the loyalty of the servant classes--Hassan refuses to give up the kite, so the bully anally rapes him. Our hero sees it happen but doesn't interfere cause he wants the kite win. But he's ashamed after and drives servant boy away.
In adulthood it's Taliban era Afghanistan. Servant boy Hassan is dead, and hero goes off to find sb's orphaned son. It turns out Sohrab's been taken from the orphanage by a Taliban leader to be raped and molested. And the Taliban guy turns out to be the bully who raped sb. (In the book apparently Baddie is also into Nazis. He doesn't twirl his moustache, but he does have one.)
Our hero tries to take the boy away, is beaten up by bully, and saved by the boy. I don't know why this boy, who's being prostituted, immediately trusts Amir, defends him and runs off with him and believes everything he says. Presumably the servantboy gene runs in the family. As if this story wasn't already over the top tragic, our hero then breaks a promise to the boy, who slits his own wrists. Why was this extra delightfulness needed? I guess to put the boy in a position if now being closed off and mistrusting Amir. ...Which the author could have realistically accomplished by the mere fact that the boy's been abused and molested. But then I guess Amir would have had to save himself from his beating.
Boy lives, they go back to America together--yes naturally Amir hasn't been able to have children, so this all works nicely. Hassan, servantboy extraordinaire, has given up his own life so that Amir can have a son. And the story finishes with hero professesing the same fealty to the boy as sb did to him, and so everything turns out alllllright. Right? Amir never did fuck-all for Hassan, but he's gonna raise Hassan's boy and now we have beautiful closure.
I probably don't need to tell you why I thought this story was awful, but I'll touch on it a bit tomorrow. And then present the counter example.