Suburban Station Slashers

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Two things I notice about this group of posters at Epsom station:

1. The common use of Black, Red & White both between the dark fiction titles but also with an exhibition about Victoria & Albert – does this tell us anything about our attitude to Victorian times?

2. Why are these books so popular with suburban rail passengers? Or at least why are suburban rail passengers routinely targeted by the publishers of these books? What does it mean that large numbers of people pouring into London every morning have just spent half an hour immersed in blood, slashing, and psychopathic torture?

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2 thoughts on “Suburban Station Slashers”

  1. I’ve wondered the same thing. They always look cheap and hackneyed to me. The general rule of thumb is that brighter colours sell more – with black and red, they’re hitting the fear & mystery button. It’s the same motivation that drives people to lose themselves in CSI, Midsomer Murders, etc – death-driven suspense and detection-based problem solving are very effective ways for people to lose themselves. These are things lacking from our every day lives, but they press ancient buttons in us. I used to buy a lot of thrillers, gore fests & comedy books when commuting. I’ve spent quite a few years doing 3-4 hours of commuting every day. It’s a totally inhumane, disconnected, powerless environment – and I was in such a state of shutdown and low level unhappiness that I couldn’t cope with reading anything high-brow. I just wanted something that would allow me to go into a meditative state of totally absorbed page-turning – as close to prime-time TV as a book can get. They’re like CSI novelisations, really, aren’t they? Which is why I’ve been wondering for a while if the advent of properly portable TV on decent sized non-laptop (iPad etc) screens will start to kill off these kind of books. On the other hand, a book lasts you a lot longer. And killing time is the whole purpose. How depressing.

  2. I’ve been there too – I hate the idea of killing time like this now, but I also recognise what an important part of our culture it is since so many people are taking part in it all the time. The trip to the States has really perked up my cultural antennae – I was up for noticing everything for 3 weeks and that sensitivity hasn’t gone away, I’m glad to say. It’s reminded me that blogging for me is about noticing the things that most other people don’t.

    The thing that changed commuting for me was podcasting. Nothing was ever the same after the winter of 2004/5 – it got me making stuff instead of just consuming and that had consequences far beyond being shackled to a commuter train for a couple of hours a day.

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