1 March 2018

bulletproof kinks

Bulletproof what?

I'm sure it happens to you occasionally: you hear or read about a book, a movie or a TV series, and something instantly pique your curiosity, making you say "Oooh, that sounds like my cup of tea!"

As explained in this post by author (and avid reader) Sonia Gensler, "bulletproof kinks" — a term originally borrowed from fanfiction, but that can now easily be applied to all works of fiction — refer to plot elements that hold an irresistible attraction for a reader or viewer; they may include situations, characters, settings or themes.

So you've had bulletproof kinks all this time and never suspected it!

Here are a few of mine...


- strange tales told to or by travellers (these occur several times in M.R. James' Collected Ghost Stories)

- a "treasure hunt" made up of clues that, once deciphered, lead to other clues (The Falls by Ian Rankin; episode of the Endeavour tv series entitled "Fugue")

- the struggle to live with limited means, especially as pertains to food, whether in penurious rural or urban areas, on naval ships, in wartime, in dystopian settings, etc. (I know, this is rather niche, but it's a long-established fascination and it's still going strong!) (Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring by Marcel Pagnol, Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series)


- very close sisters (Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility; movie adaptation of Babette's Feast by Karen Blixen)

- beings or creatures from folklore (e.g. the changeling in The Good People by Hannah Kent)

- librarians (Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón)


- United Kingdom or Ireland (of all settings, this is sure to pique my interest when I read a book's blurb); bonus points if combined with one or more of my other bulletproof kinks

- labyrinths (although these usually work better on screen, Mr Humphreys and his Inheritance by M.R. James is quite well done)

- self-contained communities (island, monastery/convent, isolated or small village, house in the middle of nowhere, ship at sea, girls' boarding school) (Death in Holy Orders by P.D. James; Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels again; Sonia Gensler's own The Revenant; The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco; Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell)

- the "hidden" side (or under-side) of a well-known place (Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman; the Harry Potter series to a certain extent)

- academe, especially from a feminine perspective (Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers)


- books and literature (the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón fits here as well; Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, about a detective able to enter books to investigate crimes)

- unsolved mysteries from the past, whether related to an object, a building or a disappearance; bonus points if a supernatural explanation is one of the theories (Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone; Possession by A.S. Byatt; Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca)

- growth in self-confidence and self-reliance of a downtrodden character (hence my admiration for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and for Helen Graham in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë)

- a family over multiple generations; this is a fairly recent one, as I clearly remember not even being willing to entertain the idea of reading a family saga when I was younger (Barkskins by Annie Proulx; One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez; Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien)

Out of curiosity, what are your bulletproof kinks?


  1. Hmmm, concept intéressant… et bonne question! Vite comme ça, il n'y a rien de spécial qui me vienne en tête, mais je sens que je vais continuer à ruminer la question. J'ai l'impression que j'ai plus de «repoussoirs assurés» que de bulletproof kinks, ou c'est juste qu'ils me viennent en tête plus facilement. Quoi qu'il en soit, je vais réfléchir à tout ça. Merci d'avoir partagé les tiens! J'aurais pu en deviner un certain nombre, mais pas tous.

    1. Oh là là, moi aussi j'ai pas mal de «repoussoirs assurés», dont plusieurs que j'ai identifiés tout récemment!


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