Damn it, this is like arriving late at the party when
everybody there is blind drunk and you've been out at a bar
yourself for the past 4 hours. I keep wanting to shout, What
do you mean, 'hoaky' and 'stink'? I'm starting to wonder What
do they mean, 'hard boiled'?
Doug, you're talking as though there is a very specific,
limited thing which is HB. Well, if you define it as
"something that women don't do", then Whee! woman PIs just
can't be hard boiled.
I start with this: any genre is constantly expanding (if it's
still alive), and the fun and life of it is the way that
people change it as they use it -- all cliches are there only
to be messed with. Cliche is a dead thing, it's the thing you
don't have to look at because you've seen it a hundred times
before. Yes, I enjoy Muller and Grafton (though not all the
time because like anybody else they're grinding out one a
year and sometimes it doesn't work, sometimes it was a poor
plot to start with, and sometimes they're tired and would
rather have done something else) -- not because they copy
some earlier writer or format but because they use and alter
Statistics do say that female criminality is increasing. You
don't write fiction about statistics -- not if you're wise.
In fictional terms,I think that almost all female criminality
is dead boring. (Not so different from male criminality,
then.) I'm not sure what point you can make about the
junkie's tale or the whore's tale, if we're talking
hard-boiled. Junkies aren't hard boiled (except maybe in
fiction) but, like all the whores I've ever known, deeply
damaged. But this isn't crime fiction; these are victims, not
avengers. ( I'm talking real life.)
What I find really interesting is the story of the perceptive
but damaged avenger. Say, Bogart finding out the truth about
the Maltese falcon and handing the girl over to the police
because after all she did kill his partner. Say, the police
detective in Edinburgh who finds himself surrounded by the
corruption of his colleagues and has to deal with the
potential effects of this on himself. Say, Warshawski
discovering a strain of oppressive corruption in society and
putting herself into the role of its victim in order to
reveal it and destroy its power.
As somebody said, the difference between these examples is
that with a female protagonist there is always the
_additional_ spoken or unspoken danger of male aggression,
and that occurs with the added complication
(and frisson) of sexual danger -- simply, of rape.
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