RARA-AVIS: Re: Crais' Women

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@colba.net)
Date: 15 Jul 2000

Weird. I think Crais really does women well (well, except for Lucy).

They certainly ring true for me, particularly in his last few books, where he's moved beyond the typical damsel in distress-types typical of much of the genre. Sure, Samantha Dolan in L.A. REQUIEM, and Carole and Beth in DEMOLITION ANGEL, are flawed characters, as well, but they're not weak stereotypes sitting around waiting to be rescued. No thanks, they'll get it themselves.

They have hopes, they have flaws, they've had disappointments and setbacks, but they also get up every day and do what they have to do, and do it as well as they can, not because it's some macho thing to do, but because it's what grown-ups do. This actually puts them more in line with most of the people I know and admire, male and female. Dolan in L.A. REQUIEM seemed particularly well-drawn to me, yet temp. spider said:

>Dolan's character
>didn't make much sense at all -- practically stalking Cole, and
>choosing a guy she barely knew over the LAPD at every turn
>despite a long career with the police. Huh?

I see it a whole other way, and come up with the exact opposite conclusion.

Dolan's distrust of the LAPD hierarchy might explain her willingness to go to Elvis, who has a rep for integrity and for being a rebel
(something she might identify with), and her attraction to him, to me at least, doesn't seem that far-fetched. He's an apparently good-looking guy, about her age, glib, funny, occasionally charming,and he treats her as an equal. Plus, he's not a part of the police force she seems constantly at war with. And, Lord knows, an attraction to someone is rarely based on logic alone, anyway. Like Woody Allen, I think it was, said, "the heart wants what it wants." So, yeah, I buy it.

Sure, she may get a little over-earnest about Elvis (though I think stalking is a stretch), but given her past problems, Samantha's loneliness and neediness seems believable to me. And she's self-aware enough to realize she's being a bit of a jackass, when she shows up at his place.

Yeah, she's not always admirable, but she rang true to me. We all know good people who do dumb things. That's not so unbelievable, is it?

But maybe we've got different standards for believability. Temp spider also wrote:

>I haven't read Demolition Angel, but I'd be happily surprised if
>Crais manages to make her a 3-dimensional human who doesn't
>sound like a man who happens to have female secondary sex

I'm not sure where you're going with this. Does this mean you're implying Dolan isn't credible because she sounds like a man? Because she's a woman who's tough, tenacious and defiant? Or because she drinks too much sometimes, and acts like an asshole? I've never found any of those traits to be exclusively or even necessarily predominantly male. (And what's a secondary sex characteristic, exactly? Is it the sex or the characteristic that's secondary?)

Sure, there are certain characteristics we generally attribute to males or females, but that doesn't mean either gender can't have them, or that one gender having some of the traits generally attributed to the other automatically means they're not "believable."


Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.colba.net/~kvnsmith/thrillingdetective/

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