_A Treasury of Victorian Murder_

Professor Wilson was the one who taught me Victorian Literature. He was quite good at it too.

Of course, you had to get used to the fact that he would take a 3 1/2 hour class, talk for three hours without a break, then send you home a half hour early. Once you learned not to drink a lot of liquids before his class, and that all his questions were rhetorical, you could settle in and start to enjoy his very dry humor and somewhat bashful retelling of victorian scandal.

He knew his stuff, and when you learned to listen, you learned a lot. I remember he told us a story of one victorian figure (can’t recall who) that had a fetish for women with strong arms. He left his wife and became involved with this cleaning woman who had very well developed muscles in her arm. However, the gentleman did not actually become intimate with this cleaning woman, much to her frustration.

I don’t remember exactly, but I have the impression it ended in some sort of murder. I do remember exactly how Professor Wilson would tell the sordid details with excruciating delicacy and yet with absolute relish and delight.

When I ran across the graphic novel A Treasury of Victorian Murder by Rick Geary, the idea fit in very well with my concept of Victorian times. The artwork was a wonderful combination of cute and sinister, perfect for the subject. Geary shows all the nice little details of dress and furnishings that gladden the hearts of Victorians, but he shows the terrifying evil faces of the murders that would satisfy the judgemental souls.

The book is not very long, but it is only one in a series. Geary tells the stories in a journalistic, factual way. He lets his pictures build the drama.

“How I learned to drive” by Paula Vogel

What is it about sexual abuse stories? They are such a strange combination of feelings. One part is the seduction, the sexiness of talking about sex. But at the same time there is the alarm bells, ringing “Danger! This is wrong!” There is the pushing-away feeling of disgust at the molester, that is part of the alarm-bell feeling.

There is also the hypnotic sensation of watching a car accident happen in slow motion. This horrible thing is happening; is the bad man going to get caught? Is the poor child going to be okay? and you are not sure of either.

And while I am wondering if the kid in the story is going to be okay, I also wonder if I am a sick person to be seduced into the sexy side of the story.

It makes me feel sick to my stomach, while being slightly turned on, which makes me feel even sicker.

That is what this story did. I guess that means Vogel did a good job of making me feel the same sort of thing that Li’l Bit felt. Surely she must have felt those feelings and more.

This play was better than just a “How I recovered from my Molesting Uncle” article in a woman’s magazine. There was a stronger pull of power between the girl and her Uncle Peck.

It reminded me a whole lot of Lolita, the way Li’l Bit turned the situation to have more power. Lolita had a pull of power over Humbert too.

The influence of Li’l Bit’s family on how she dealt with issues of femininity were quite funny-a horrifying combination of frankness and misinformation, high expectations and hypocrisy.

The characters are all sympathetic, Vogel made everyone come alive.