Re: RARA-AVIS: My Alleged Gender Bigotry

From: George Upper (
Date: 27 Aug 2001

--- Doug Bassett <> wrote:
> My take on female PIs is that I have nothing against
> the notion in theory, but in practice it seems too
> often like a contrivance. (Outside of Angie in
> Dennis
> Lehane's work.) Most seem to me to be just "chicks
> with dicks", basically unconvincing females and
> unconvincing PIs. Marcia Muller is the female PI
> writer I know best -- her work is incredibly dull,
> basically Ross Macdonald-lite.

Doug, I think this is well-taken, and I agree, except that I haven't read Lehane yet and I have trouble equating Macdonald and "dull." But I agree that the female PI characters I've read have been unconvincing.
 On the other hand, what do I know about women? Grafton could fill her novels with convincingly realistic nuances about being a woman, and they'd go over my head at about the same height as my wife's subtle hints about upcoming anniversaries.

(Just kidding; I remember our anniversary.)

Anyway, on the topic of woman PI's, is anyone familiar with ANGEL DANCE by M.F. Beal? I recently read it described as a lesbian hard-boiled detective novel, by which I assume the author and/or protagonist, or both, are lesbians--I'm kind of assuming it's both. However, the critic who wrote this description is a feminist critic, which is where her expertise lies. She may be the world's leading expert on hard-boiled literature, but it seems more likely that she wouldn't know h-b from H&K, so to speak.

Does anyone know anything at all about this novel? I've looked in a couple of academic databases with very little luck.


===== George C. Upper III, Editor The Lightning Bell Poetry Journal

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