Is the author of the book you are reading insane?

Have you ever read a book, and right in the middle of it, had it dawn on you that the author was insane? I’m not talking about when you read something that you know the author is not playing with a normal deck, like, Mein Kempf. I mean, when you are reading a book innocently, thinking that the author is surely an educated, level minded person, and then you notice that he must be a raving loony.

It happened to me twice.

The first time, I was reading Frances Cress Welsing’s The Isis Papers. It was given to me by a very passionate young man who was involved in the black power struggle, and I was entering a militant phase in my life.

I was enjoying the book a great deal. I am aware that folks know Frances is loony, but I didn’t know that at the time. I am aware that people think she isn’t smart, and that the book held no value, and I don’t agree with that view. But I do agree that the woman is nuts. She simply is. I told my friend that, and he had to admit, she is not wrapped tight.

The second time this happened is more interesting to me, cause I haven’t met anyone that seems to agree with me here; but it was a Toni Morrison book. The Bluest Eye was indeed an interesting book. I am not saying the woman doesn’t know how to write…she does. But the realization did dawn on me as I read that book, “This woman is insane.”

I wonder if anyone else has had that thought hit them, and if it colored their response to the author’s other work. For me it did in the case of Frances Cress Welsing, but it did not in the case of Toni Morrison. I am not a huge fan of her other work though.

What, specifically, tipped you off to their looniness?

Well, the Isis Papers is quite a read. But the fact that in her view, almost everything, and I mean EVERYTHING in American culture, art, sports, and everyday items is about the white man’s obsession with the black man’s penis, was a bit strange.

The way she expresses it though, is very, very bizarre. She states it casually as if it should be obvious to anyone.

And with The Bluest Eye…this one is much harder for me to describe. She gets really, really deep into the black American mentality…but I think she misses the mark.

For instance, she actually states that many black people keep thier homes very clean because subconciously, they feel that cleanliness is next to godliness, and white people are pretty much god…in these black folks mind. She doesn’t state it directly, the narrator does…but she presents it as fact. It’s weird.

That is crazy.

It’s, like, half, at best.

What are the white women, and maybe the non-white people, obsessed with then? Whose penis I mean?

Mine.

:o

Why would you think that an author agrees with everything - or anything - that a character in a book says?

And the narrator of that book is mentally ill, so I’m not sure it’s fair to judge the author’s mental state because they’re using the unreliable narrator literary device. Have you ever read anything else by Morrison? That book has a tone to it that isn’t repeated in her other books. (well, maybe in Beloved to some degree)

I don’t get that Morrison is crazy at all, just picking up on the militancy and anger of the particular time she was writing in. It’s been a while since I read The Bluest Eye, but could the “god” complex you describe be an allusion to the meme “Black people are lazy, trifling, low class” and her description of this in the book be her attempt to to pathologize this yearning for approval? A Black girl wants to have blue eyes, after all.

I also think she has a vivid imagination that she’s not afraid to unleash (Beloved, anyone?).

I see this militancy and anger also in Song of Solomon (which you should read, if you’re still willing to give her another chance), which was written close around the same time.

Except for the most pathetic characters, none of them give a damn what white people think and the most heroic character of all, Pilate, could give a tinker’s damn about cleanliness (just to comment on one aspect of your assessment) or white folks, doesn’t have a pot to piss in and doesn’t care.

As EMapcase commented, Morrison’s themes are more easily separated from the psycological equilibrium; I haven’t read The Isis Papers, but since it’s non-fiction, you’re more likely to be reading what is the author’s state of mind.

Regarding The Bluest Eye; I understand that Pecola does eventually go insane. But, the naration at the time when some of the craziest themes in the book crop up are not the times that things are being described through Pecola’s eyes.

I knew I would have a hard time explaining this. I have not ever been able to succesfully do so.

It has something to do with Morrison’s ability to come up with some of her madness that is strange to me.

She is a very good writer, and she is able to make the madness so vivid, that I think to myself, ‘she is a bit touched herself’.
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Five**, reading your post makes me second guess myself. And I never read Beloved, (watched the movie)…but I was still stricken by The Bluest Eye. Some of the writing in that book moved me to believe that the author was sandwich short of a picnic.

According to Frances Cress Welsing, the answer is, ‘the black man’s penis’.

Enjoy chocolate? According to Frances Cress Welsing, the reason is, 'the black man’s penis.

Keep at it; that’s what the Dope (and me) is here for. :wink:

Morrison didn’t win the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize without something substantial in that picnic basket.

(I know you’ve asked us about other authors whom we have this impression of but I can’t think of any personally at the moment.)

Terry Goodkind would qualify, I would have to think. In every single one of his books a women is raped(usually gang-raped). And I think that in every book, at least one city is sacked and the women rounded up and used as sex slaves. His main female character is nearly raped in almost every book. In his last book, he must have devoted 100 pages to an excruciating description of the horrors perpetuated on the women of a city and had been captured.

R. Scott Bakker also squicks me out because of the casual(and totally unnecessary) references to pedophilia he throws in his novels.

But I like white chocolate. Honestly!

Hmm. Since technically, there is no such thing as white chocolate…this is a very telling statement from you, Anaamika.

I haven’t read the first author you mention. But Toni Morrison is writing fiction and she’s getting into her characters head. You might as well say that Sue Grafton has murderous tendencies, and let’s not even get into Stephen King. Or about about Ann Rice?

I do think authors have a strain of nuttiness that they tap into, where they are almost channeling their characters. This doesn’t make them insane. A writer incapable of imagining a whole spectrum of humanity wouldn’t be much of a writer.

On the other hand, I would go with insanity on a couple of them. Not Morrison, though.

How about VC Andrews?? I read some of her weird books haphazardly throughout the years. Found one in a laundromat, another one my roommate had. I realized with the second one that she was obsessively fixated on ahem brother sister love. ick!

The vast majority of “VC Andrew’s” books were ghost-written after her death by people who mimicked the plots from the handful of books she really wrote before dying. Basically they’ve just copied themes from the Flowers in The Attic books several times over.

Um, actually, there is a confection that is widely known by the name white chocolate. So to say “there is no such thing as white chocolate” is more about abstract pedantry than actual fact. It’s kinda like saying “there’s no such thing as Long Island Iced Tea.”

What about chocolate rain?