This week's Booking Through Thursday is:
How do you feel about explicit detail in your reading? Whether
language, sex, violence, situations and so on … does it bother you? Faze
you at all? Or do you just read everything without it bothering you?
It all depends on the context, for me. If the explicit sex/violence/etc adds something to the story, then it has a valid place, and if it's distressing that's probably intentional, in order to show a character's traumatic experience or similar. For example, The Lovely Bones opens with the rape and murder of the narrator, but it's central to the story, and told in a way that takes no enjoyment in the description and doesn't elaborate more than necessary. Sometimes it feels as though the author takes a perverse pleasure in describing that kind of scene, which is something that does make me feel uncomfortable.
I'm much more able to tolerate gory details in book form than in film - I can't watch even the most childish horror/gore-filled film because the images are shoved in your face. With books, however, the worst that you can picture has to come from within your own imagination, and in a way you feel safer - you can put the book down and go for a walk in the sun, or have a nice cup of tea, and get it all out of your head.
Swearing or explicit language in novels generally doesn't bother me, again as long as it's there for a purpose - to illustrate a character, add contemporary flavour, and so on.
I have no problem with consensual sex acts being portrayed in novels - in fact, if they happen at all I'd rather they weren't rather coyly glossed over as many tend to do. As long as the scene is there because it adds to the narrative and not simply to titillate the reader then it has its place, and I'd rather see it happen than have a rose-scented curtain pulled down at the crucial moment.