RARA-AVIS: Re: Gender, Books & Other Stuff

From: tstock@concentric.net
Date: 28 May 2000

Seems to me whether a book is from a feminine or masculine point of view, if there is such a thing, is immaterial. What I want to read is a good book with believable characters involved in interesting situations. I don't even really care whether it is officially "hard-boiled" or "cozy." I read some of both, but more of the former.

My contribution to the gender discussion is that sure, maybe in the best of all possible worlds there is no essential difference psychologically between men and women (or maybe not, the jury is still out on that one, I think), but we don't live in the best of all possible worlds and those of us who inhabit this world are affected in some way by our gender, whether because we have bought into the stereotypes to a greater or lesser degree or because we are reacting against them.

Personally, I wish we'd get back to talking about books. I just finished Pelecanos' Shame the Devil, which moved him to the top of my list of writers. Whether it was this book or the accumulated history of the D.C. series, I'm not sure, but I really have come to care about these people, who are certainly as real to me as you guys are.

Now I get weepy easily with visual mediums: I cry at movies, standing ovations (even for people I don't like), Hallmark commercials and when they play "My Old Kentucky Home" on Derby day. Gender-related? Don't know. But I very seldom cry in books and almost never in mysteries. This one got to me. It did what the best "hard-boiled" does, in my opinion: appeals to a tender place inside us that rebels against the unfairness of the world.

So is Shame the Devil the end of the Nick and the boys? Has Pelecanos given any indication whether this might eventually become a quintet instead of a quartet?


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