Synopses & Reviews
Why cant we look away?
Whether we admit it or not, were fascinated by evil. Dark fantasies, morbid curiosities, Schadenfreude: as conventional wisdom has it, these are the symptoms of our wicked side, and we succumb to them at our own peril. But were still compelled to look whenever we pass a grisly accident on the highway, and theres no slaking our thirst for gory entertainments like horror movies and police procedurals. What makes these spectacles so irresistible?
In Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck, the scholar Eric G. Wilson sets out to discover the source of our attraction to the gruesome, drawing on the findings of biologists, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, philosophers, theologians, and artists. A professor of English literature and a lifelong student of the macabre, Wilson believes theres something nourishing in darkness. “To repress death is to lose the feeling of life,” he writes. “A closeness to death discloses our most fertile energies.”
His examples are legion and startling in their diversity. Citing everything from elephant graveyards and Susan Sontags On Photography to the Tiger Woods sex scandal and Steel Magnolias, Wilson finds heartening truths wherever he confronts death. In Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck, the perverse is never far from the sublime. The result is a powerful and delightfully provocative defense of what it means to be human—for better and for worse.
About the Author
Eric G. Wilson is the Thomas H. Pritchard Professor of English at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is the author of Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy, The Mercy of Eternity: A Memoir of Depression and Grace, and five books on the relationship between literature and psychology.