James Steele's Reviews > Tool

Tool by Peter Sotos
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For as short as it is, it's a very challenging read. These stories are dramatic monologues from the point of view of child rapists, pedophiles, and people who otherwise derive pleasure from the suffering of others.

The first story is from the point of view of a man who has just abducted a little girl and is forcing her to do all sorts of unspeakable acts. But hurting her isn't enough. He wants to know her. Know the innocent life he's destroying. Know the family he's hurting by taking her away, raping her and killing her.

The second story is from a man's point of view as he gets a blowjob from an ugly hooker, taking great pleasure that he gets to wallow in her filthy world of drugs and self-destruction while never becoming a victim of it--taking even greater pleasure in knowing that he is contributing to her destruction.

Story three is a peep show, and all the things that go through the man's head as he peeks into a disgusting world of hookers and cheap sex. It's like going to the zoo for him.

Story four is a letter from a man who raped and murdered a gay teenager to this teenager's mother, confronting her with the reality of who her son was. The media portrayed this teen as innocent and pure, a victim of a horrible predator who snuffed out this perfect life too soon. This man wants to set the record straight: that kid was messed up before he was killed, and the mother has only herself to blame.

Five is a nonlinear narrative about a man arrested for possessing child porn as he muses on exactly what is important to him, and that the cops who question him do not seem so innocent either. They take perverse pleasure in making him suffer for his crime.

Six is a startling monologue about the difference between female hookers and gay hookers. Straight, female prostitutes feel the need to prove they're good at sucking cock. Gay, male prostitutes *need* it. Watching them succumb to and wallow in this need is where the pleasure is.

That's the point of these stories. It's not the sex these men need, it's the destruction. They derive pleasure from watching other people destroy themselves, and being part of someone else's ruin. The loss of innocence, of happiness, causing scars that will forever haunt that person, snuffing out a life, watching how they forced such powerful emotions on others.

Their sense of empathy and compassion has been twisted to the point where they do not feel it at all. People are merely tools to be used for their own satisfaction, and if that means ruining a child's happiness, or pushing a prostitute deeper into the gutter, that's what it takes. He himself is immune to this suffering; he gets to watch it from a distance, and that's amazing--to watch anguish, to cause it, and yet be untouched by it.

Number seven is a repeat of these musings, but number eight is a letter from a media-watching bystander to a mother whose daughter was abducted, raped and drowned in a gutter. This story turns all of the previous ideas around and holds them like a mirror up to the reader. The innocent bystanders are not innocent either. They, too, feel this same pleasure from watching the suffering of others.

To imagine what someone else has been through while remaining immune to its effects is to romanticize it. I liken it to reading up on the history of the Middle Ages, learning about the lives those people had to endure under such harsh conditions. We, from behind the peepshow glass of the future, can look back on those times and be in awe of what those people had to go through, and even entertain the idea that it might be fun in a way. It gives us some kind of perverse pleasure to imagine the suffering of others in some distant era.

Similarly, when the press presents the suffering of a grieving mother who lost her child, we identify with her, and we are left wanting to know more. We feel like we're connected in some way. In this respect, we are all perverts taking great pleasure in watching someone else's life destroyed.

The final story, Mine/Kept, makes no sense to me and I have no idea what it's supposed to convey. As for the rest, it's a startlingly frank presentation of the stream of consciousness of people who do not feel the same as you and I. People who actually take pleasure out of the destruction of other people, both physically and mentally, shoving this thought process in our face and forcing us to experience the emotions for ourselves.

We all have seeds of this within us. Think about that. Why do we like to watch someone rise to the top and then fall? Why are the masses captivated by a mother grieving for the loss of her child, and why do they seem let down when it has a happy ending? When the press hypes something up and there is no tragic ending, why does the press suddenly lose interest? Why do we lose interest? Do we really feel relief, or do we secretly hope it turns out badly? Do we enjoy it when it does?

Are we any different from the person who gets off to ruining a child's innocence? It's the same emotion, just expressed in slightly different ways. That's why these men do it. Sex is secondary. Hurting someone is primary.
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Reading Progress

November 17, 2014 – Started Reading
November 17, 2014 – Shelved
November 22, 2014 – Finished Reading

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