NPR has an excellent article about Dorothy Dunnett. I haven’t read any Dorothy Dunnett, but I shall soon be correcting that mistake. There was one sentence from the article that really caught my attention:

“It really taught me that finely wrought emotional pain can be an exquisite joy for readers, even if they claim it hurts!”

This makes me think that my favorite authors really are readers of Dunnett. Because my favorite authors are masters of exquisite pain. They’re the authors that I’ll read in all-night marathons for days or weeks on end even though I cry through every book. Even though they keep beating the main hero. Even though they keep laying the heroine bare. Even though death is always an option. I keep reading them over and over again. Devouring page after page, like I have no idea what the outcome will be, even though I’ve read the entire series dozens or hundreds of times. Exquisite pain.

I am one of the people that uses books to escape the reality of every day life. Because life is hard and painful and unfair and cold. So why would I chose to escape into a world where life is harder, more painful, more unfair, and even colder? Because the chapter is not finished until the hero wins. Because the book is not closed until the heroine conquers all. Because the series is not over until love has vanquished death. And, sometimes, that simple reassurance that all will be made right in the end…that’s exactly what I need to make it through the hard, painful, unfair, cold days.