I won’t be reading it.
I choose to look away because I choose not to be part of this particular dialogue between author and reader. Time and again, not just in this cycle but in his other books, Martin presents readers with nasty people, nasty plots, and nasty actions. “Look,” he tells us, holding us by the scruff of the neck and forcing us to not blink. “Look at how nasty the world is. Participate in the brutality I’ve laid before you.”
Oh, readers rave about how real Martin is, how truthful, how powerful. No elfy-welfy stories here, we say. No golden child quests, no white hats and black hats, no good vs. evil. Look how real it all is. It’s hard not to buy into it too, especially with the brutality we’re presented with today. Gang rape of a child in rural Texas? That just happened. Kill squads of soldiers in Afghanistan, who murder civilians and gruesomely pose with them? Ditto. And genocide by machete in Rwanda in the 1990s? Not so long ago, was it.
I reject the right of Martin to tell those stories and have that worldview, and only that worldview. He does not have the right to co-opt the world’s inhumanity as the only story to tell. He grew up white, middle-class, American, and therefore sheltered from most of the world’s brutality. (We may not like to think that, but it’s true. The vast majority of Americans grew up safe from the killing fields and we should respect that, not exploit it commercially.) He isn’t any different than any of his readers and he doesn’t have any more of a handle on the truth of evil than anyone else. Less, in fact, than someone who grew up in the worst inner city slum surrounded by hopelessness, crime, ignorance, and impoverishment of spirit.
Martin is being a misery tour guide, but he doesn’t have a map for that city any more than anyone else. No matter how powerfully he writes, it is ultimately exploitative.
I choose not to be complicit.