Increasing Sensitivity to Victimization
Through Satire and Comedy
Charles Dickens may not have been the first novelist to address the evils of child victimization in fiction, but his work has certainly had an impact on the consciousness of us all. Every Christmas, Tiny Tim pulls at our heart strings, now by cable and satellite, and stirs the emotions of masses. Rarity from the Hollow is an adult literary science fiction novel filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. Its mission is to sensitize readers to the world-wide social problem of child maltreatment by using a very different approach: satire and comedy.
Child maltreatment is a world-wide phenomenon without clear definition. What one person believes to have been abusive, another may consider as an appropriate child discipline technique, and these views may be influenced by cultures, societal norms, religions…. While prevalence rate is difficult to come up with, approximately one quarter of all adults believe that they were maltreated as children – physically, sexually, or psychologically. Internationally, forty million children are abused each year.
Despite its high prevalence, many people do not like to think about childhood victimization – sweep it under the carpet! Yet, ignoring this social ill has likely backfired. Child maltreatment affects us all. I live in West Virginia, an impoverished state in the U.S. Just in America’s pocketbook, child maltreatment costs $220 million dollars every day: treatment for chronic health and mental health concerns, crime, dependency, employability issues…. Regardless of where you live, odds are that your wallet is also being drained by child maltreatment.
I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist. Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel. Its outline kept me on track, yet I found it impossible to address child maltreatment by minimizing its tragedy. An early voice in the first chapter speaks about things that no child should know. It is that of a traumatized child – a voice most of us never listen to, or want to hear, but in real life is screaming. The language and concepts in this story are mild in comparison to some of the stuff that kids have said during actual group therapy sessions that I have facilitated over the years. The early tragedy feeds and amplifies subsequent comedy and satire.
“…About the only thing in the book that is believable is the nature of the narrative voice, and it is utterly compelling. You find yourself convinced that “Hollow” was written as a diary-based autobiography by a young girl and the banal stems from the limits of her environment, the extraordinary from her megalomania. And that’s what gives Rarity from The Hollow a chilling, engaging verisimilitude that deftly feeds on both the utter absurdity of the characters’ motivations and on the progression of the plot….” Electric review
The new edition of my novel has just been released. The first edition was awarded two Gold Medals by prominent book review organizations and was picked along with The Martian by Andy Weir and Revival by Stephen King as one of the five best books of 2015. The first edition of Rarity from the Hollow also took some book reviewers outside of their comfort zones. With respect to praise, I’m most proud of the book reviews published by more than a dozen book bloggers and critics who disclosed to me that they had survived child maltreatment, like me. With the reviewers’ permission, following are a couple of review excerpts:
“If I could, I would give it all the stars in the universe… I usually do not read or review books that discuss child abuse or domestic violence; however, I was intrigued by the excerpt and decided to give it a shot. I am glad that I took a risk; otherwise, I would have missed out on a fantastic story with a bright, resourceful, and strong protagonist that grabbed my heart and did not let go….” On my Kindle
“…soon I found myself immersed in the bizarre world… weeping for the victim and standing up to the oppressor…solace and healing in the power of love, laughing at the often comical thoughts… marveling at ancient alien encounters… As a rape survivor… found myself relating easily to Lacy Dawn… style of writing which I would describe as beautifully honest. Rarity from the Hollow is different from anything I have ever read, and in today’s world of cookie-cutter cloned books, that’s pretty refreshing… whimsical and endearing world of Appalachia n Science Fiction, taking you on a wild ride you won’t soon forget….” Kylie Jude
Some of the stronger language in the original Rarity from the Hollow was toned down for the new edition. The “F word” is still used once, but the all other profanity is mild colloquialism. Since proceeds from the novel support child abuse prevention, I wanted to reach as many readers as possible, but I didn’t want to edit out anything that would weaken this finding: “…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them. In fact, the rustic humor and often graphic language employed by Lacy Dawn and her compatriots only serve to highlight their desperate lives, and their essential toughness and resilience….” Awesome Indies
I believe that as adults, we should be aware of child maltreatment and its impact. We all have a responsibility to protect the welfare of children, worldwide. The world can be a scary place for all of us, especially children, but our fears cannot be diminished with ignorance by sticking our heads in the sand. At the earliest age possible, I also believe that all children should be educated by their parents, in child care centers, at church, and in schools about “good touch, bad touch” and about their legal right to tell someone in authority if they are victimized by anybody, including bullies at school. I do not believe that my novel is a good fit to everybody’s reading interests. No book is for everybody.
Child maltreatment can be prevented by the establishment of voluntary community-based services accessible by parents and children. As examples: local support groups for expectant mothers, such as those who have been maltreated themselves as children; referrals to treatment providers for parents addicted to drugs or alcohol, or who have mental health concerns exasperated by stress or poverty; highly confidential personal counseling in schools, accessible without stigma, to which children can seek assistance…. Many communities already have nonprofit agencies to which these and other add-on programs could be based, such as Children’s Home Society of WV (CHSWV) where author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow have been and will continue to be donated.
Nobody likes to face the reality of child maltreatment. Nevertheless, I believe that readers of my novel will become increasingly sensitized to child maltreatment because it is a fun read with the tragedy amplifying comedy. I am familiar with several great but very depressing novels that have addressed child victimization, the most notable of which is probably Push by Sapphire (Ramona Lofton) which was backed by Oprah Winfrey and turned into the 2009 box office hit, Precious. Frankly, I don’t like to remember that film either. It was so depressing that it probably triggered the audience to tune out instead of help out maltreated kids.
On January 6, 2017, the first review of the new edition of Rarity from the Hollow was published. The closing lines were: “…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.” Marcha Fox
If you don’t believe that Rarity from the Hollow fits your reading interests, please consider the higher purpose of child abuse prevention. I’m not asking you to buy a book that you don’t want to read, or to value a book because it supports a good cause. Instead, I’m asking you to look around in your communities and find likely underfunded programs to which you can contribute. Speak to your children about good touch, bad touch. Encourage them to listen to their peers, truly listen if one of them brings up a sensitive matter like having been abused, bullied, or raped. Everybody can do something to put an end to this huge social problem, even if it’s just sending a small, anonymous gift to your local emergency children’s shelter.
“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.”
Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author
Rarity from the Hollow is available from:
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About the author
Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next — never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency
Today, he is a recently retired children’s psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. The second edition of Rarity from the Hollow was release on November 3, 2016. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.
Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow isn’t great. But Lacy has one advantage — she’s been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to her to save the Universe.
To prepare Lacy for her coming task, she is being schooled daily via direct downloads into her brain. Some of these courses tell her how to apply magic to resolve everyday problems much more pressing to her than a universe in big trouble, like those at home and at school. She doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her own family and friends come first.
Will Lacy Dawn’s predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.
Robert Eggleton’s humorous science fantasy follows in the steps of Douglas Adams, Tom Holt and Terry Pratchett.
“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” —Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)
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