Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Pellecanos (and Adams)

From: Maura McMillan (
Date: 04 Feb 2000

 the difference between sex scenes then and now were that
>those were deliberate (and shocking) sexual fantasy

really? how does one KNOW this to be a fact? women possessed definite sexualities of their own far before even gold medal came into being. or so i hear. my personal speculation is that there have always been at least SOME women who enjoy sex. what has also remained constant is the ready judgments put on women for liking sex, by female and male critics alike.

if i may indulge in a digression here, i only like to have the whole sex thing mentioned when it has something to do with the plot - of course it is a major motivator in the lives of all human beings, and it would be stupid to deny it. but anything used gratuitously, be it sex, violence, or brand name, insults me as a reader. it takes a skillful hand to paint the scene and the forces moving within each character - when it's done right, as pelecanos does it, it is touching and jarring and beautiful all at once. the death of len bias in king suckerman did that to me. and i am bored stiff by sports and consumer electronics and mopar engines. and still found myself grieving for the death of hope, once again.

pelecanos evokes our varying zeitgeist very well, and while such details are only part of it, they are crucial, i feel, to flesh out his excellent characterization and dialogue. i think to bash his use of detail is, well, dumb, and also nitpicky. there is much more going on in what he says than meets the eye, regardless of his necessary bowing to the conventions of the genre, such as they are. his details are appropriate, as is his depictions of sex in some of its countless manifestations - sometimes loving, sometimes brutal, sometimes mechanical - pelecanos is a subtle observer and a student of the more realistic writers of our times, from willeford to robert deane pharr and nathan heard. his protagonists are often near-immobilized, or all the way there, and their struggle to break free is everything.

thanks for reading this rant.

maura http:/

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