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EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD TRAIN WRECK by Eric G. Wilson

EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD TRAIN WRECK

Why We Can't Look Away

By Eric G. Wilson

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-374-15033-4
Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A book posing questions that have obvious answers.

Followers of pop culture pick up a copy of People to read about tawdry celebrity scandals. Most drivers rubberneck to get a better look at an accident on the highway. "The exploitation of a suicidal starlet; the assassination of a world leader; the hypnotic crush of a hurricane...whatever our attraction, we are drawn to doom." So why are we so morbid? There are two fairly simple reasons: We're sympathetic to the victim, and we're glad it's not happening to us. Wilson (English/Wake Forest Univ.; Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy, 2009) has a legitimate personal reason for wanting to explore this phenomenon--his emotional reaction to 9/11. It's a poignant starting point for a book, but the sense of heartfelt emotion disappears quickly. Wilson lumps our fascination with films and TV shows like Dexter, Hostel and Saw with our curiosity about 9/11, a problem in that it trivializes the history and gives undue credit to what is often disposable material. The author might have been able to pull it off with a sense of intensity or consistently electric prose, but Wilson commits the crime of dullness. His tone drifts from pedantic to casual in what could be construed as an attempt to appeal to academics and non-academics alike, but this approach may be offputting to both.

While far from a train wreck, this odd little title is slight, rambling and trivial.