A while back a friend of mine recommended David Grossman’s book Someone to Run With. It was also made into a movie. I haven’t had a chance to pick up any of his novels, but I have started reading his book of essays called Writing in the Dark. Last night I read his essay with the same name and it was such a wonderful piece about writing in a violent world. Grossman refers to his own country, Israel, but he relates his experience to any area of conflict. In particular, he talks about the way in which we become immune to the atrocities around us. This passage in particular stuck with me:
I feel the heavy price that I and the people around me pay for this prolonged state of war. Part of this price is a shrinking of our soul’s surface area – those parts of us that touch the violent, menacing world outside – and a diminished ability and willingness to empathize at all with other people in pain.
It seems like we do this every day just to get by. I know that if I paid attention to even half of the horrible things in the world, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed. But, I think it is important to remember that we are doing that. Grossman talks about how writing is a way to gain some of our “soul’s surface area” back. I definitely recommend this essay and I hope to read some of his fiction soon.