As the repeated and realistic cursing of characters throughout Casual Vacancy was the subject of comment in every review I read before reading Casual Vacancy, I decided to track the profanity instance by instance, an exercise I realize that will inevitably cause readers to imagine me at the movies with a click counter for ‘F’ and ‘S’ utterances or, a la the Harry Haters, a Hogwarts reader who flinches at every use of magic. Be that as it may, here are the numbers for your consideration:
Variations on ‘Fuck’ (140). ‘Shit’ (34), ‘Bloody’ (23), ‘Bitch’ (16), ‘Shag’ (12), ‘Cunt’ (8), and ‘Bastard’ (7). There are various unpleasantries about penises, lesbians, and masturbation but no one of more than five appearances. Cursing is part of the atmospheric fabric of the book, I think it’s fair to say, and I think we’re left to discuss (a) what effect the author was after in this besides shock and (b) how it impacted your experience of the work. Have at it!
Just as a starting point of conversation on the data, there are two pages on which characters say or think ‘fuck’ again and again and again, once nine times, another eleven times. There are also stretches of thirty and forty pages in which no one swears at all. Language defines worlds and experience, no?