Re: RARA-AVIS: RE: Women Rewriting

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 26 May 2000

Bill Hagen:

<<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 particular mention of Paretsky,

Grafton, and Muller.>>

Paretsky is definitely hardboiled. I dislike her work for reasons that have nothing to do with boiling: heavy-handedness, a somewhat careless technique, and an overtly feminist agenda. Grafton and Mü¥² ¤on't seem hardboiled to me. I think of Grafton as a lighter Ross Macdonald with a wider variety of plots
(Macdonald only had one: the missing daughter or son). I haven't found Mü¥²§³ work very appealing.

My current favorite hardboiled female writers are Billie Sue Mosiman and Teri White. They are originals who belong in the broader tradition of realistic crime writing started by Hammett (rather than the Chandler-inspired lone-guy PI novel, which seems pretty exhausted, though it can still shine in the right hands).

In summary, whatever Grafton and colleagues have reinvented, it isn't the hardboiled PI novel, a formula that seems threadbare from use. If I have to take that formula, I would rather read Greenleaf, Lyons, Estleman, or Pronzini. Their work is entertaining without being hoaky.



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