Re: RARA-AVIS: RE: Women Rewriting

From: Anthony Dauer (
Date: 26 May 2000

Maybe they're defining their own genre and the greater disservice is to make them subservient to a masculine genre simply to more easily place them within a definitive box. Unless of course hard-boiled boils down to simply a private detective/investigator or cop or criminal and that primary core is all that is required for a work to be hard-boiled. The biggest problem I've seen is when women don't strive to be their own voice and instead try to feminize the genre (as if that were the only possible option) ... all feminizing the genre ends up doing in my experience is give us a chick Dick with a dick (... men in dresses). I'd rather see a female genre be established/evolve/grow/or whatever that takes the setting and plot devices (or whatever that amounts to the basic non-gender aspects of the genre) and then speak to it with a female voice and a female perspective ... I think in the end the overall canon would benefit far more for the extra effort. wrote:

> I'm certainly with Kevin (re Fables...) in his reaction to the blurb I posted
> for Priscilla L. Walton and Manina Jones' _Detective Agency: Women
> Rewriting the Hard-Boiled Tradition_ (U. Calif. Press, 1999).
> I always hope the book recommended in such theory-clotted language
> is better than the review...,but there is some logic to guilt by association.
> One aspect of the review intrigues me. Quoting first "...[women writers have
> reimagined the hard-boiled novel, challenging not only the patriarchal culture
> that defines these fictional worlds" etc., with particlar mention of Paretsky,
> Grafton, and Muller.
> Now, the particular authors mentioned have been discussed and mostly dismissed
> in this forum. I see no need to debate their de-/merits again. But couldn't it
> be argued that these three--adding Stabenow, Cornwell, McCrumb perhaps--"open
> the door" to the world of hard-boiled for a lot of new readers? We all read
> something lighter, pulpish, or less "pure" before we came to the good stuff.
> Secondly, like 'em or not, haven't the women writers (and the whole cultural
> outlook) somehow "changed the rules" of the genre? Or at least changed the
> perspective on society? By the latter question, I mean even if the novels we
> read continue the attitudes of certain decades (30s-50s) toward race and gender,
> there is a difference (or maybe we're just different). Sexism or racism in
> older novels by Spillane and newer novels by Ellroy set in the same period just
> don't read the same way.
> It's lunchtime. I'll leave the thread dangling there. It's wonderful to be
> through grading papers for another academic year, and be able to dip into the
> pile of RA recommended books.
> Bill Hagen
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volente Deo,

Anthony Dauer Alexandria, Virginia
"If you don't leave, I'll get somebody who will." -Raymond Chandler (1888-1959)
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