Re: RARA-AVIS: Women Writing Pulps?

Greg Swan (
Sun, 04 Apr 1999 09:55:26 -0700 Bill Hagen wrote:

> My short history of the pulps (Dime Detectives) doesn't mention her; the
> 1946 anthology, The Art of the Mystery Story, ed. by Howard Haycraft, and,
> later, Julian Symons characterized her as writing "crime comedy." But I'd
> be the first to admit that these are not extensive sources.
> So far, then, she and Leigh Brackett are on my list to check.

A few more thoughts. It may be difficult to decide whether to dismiss her
work as neither noir nor harboiled. Mario would probably term the stuff
I've read and liked "medium-boiled."

While crime comedy is also probably a fitting label for some of her work, I
think it misses a point. Craig Rice was apparently a deeply troubled woman
who tried to make her pain go away through drink. She reportedly was
good-natured and possessed a brilliant sense-of-humor, perhaps another way
to hide her inner suffering. Reportedly, she twice attempted suicide. I've
felt for some years that it's hard for tortured souls like Rice to write a
breezy novel. The pain, shame and desperation they feel can't help but leak
into the story. It's this subtle, dark undertone that made Rice's work
interesting for me to read. Her darkness isn't as easy to spot as, say,
David Goodis'. But, I think it's there.
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