For this week’s Friday Reads, I decided to feature one of my current reads: If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio
I’m hoping this dramatic campus novel will give me some of the same feels as Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. So far I’m enjoying being swept up in this suspenseful, character-driven murder mystery.
Keep scrolling to see this week’s Book Beginnings and The Friday56…
Book Beginnings is a bookish meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you’re reading, along with your initial thoughts/impressions.
I sit with my wrists cuffed to the table and I think, But that I am forbid/ To tell the secrets of my prison-house, / I could a tale unfold whose lightest word/ Would harrow up thy soul. The guard stands by the door, watching me, like he’s waiting for something to happen.
I don’t know about you, but this makes me desperate to know what harrowing tales our narrator Oliver has to tell. These first sentences in the prologue perfectly capture the theatrical themes that are at the heart of If We Were Villains. This line from Hamlet is just one of the many Shakespeare quotations that are peppered throughout the novel. M. L. Rio’s thespian characters truly live and breathe the Bard. I have a feeling that their lives are going to imitate their art more and more as the plot progresses. But will that be more in keeping with Shakespeare’s comedies or his tragedies?
The Friday 56 is a bookish meme hosted by Freda’s Voice that asks you to: Grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56 and find a sentence that grabs you.
The Friday 56:
“It’s remarkable how the theatre-and Shakespeare in particular-can numb us to the spectacle of violence. But it’s not just a stage trick. When Macbeth has his head chopped off, or Lavinia has her tongue cut out, or the conspirators bathe their hands in Caesar’s blood, it should affect you, whether you’re the victim, the aggressor, or only a bystander. Have you ever seen a real fight? It’s ugly. It’s visceral. Most importantly it’s emotional. Onstage we have to be in control so we don’t hurt other actors, but violence has to come from a place of violent feeling, or the audience won’t believe it.”
Dun, dun, dun! I think this passage-spoken by the acting teacher during combat class-will have a major resonance throughout the rest of the novel. The juxtaposition of life lived onstage vs. offstage, the issues of control and emotion, and the ugly reality of violence vs. the spectacle of violence, all seem like dichotomies that are bound to be explored and tested. Also, I think the main mystery of the novel is going to be whether the actor found dead was hurt by his/her fellow actors, and if so: who is “the victim, the agressor, or only a bystander?”
What do you think about these excerpts? What is your Friday Read this week?