RARA-AVIS: Re: I can't resist

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 14 Nov 2001

George wrote:

>Spenser: "I just read this book
>by a guy who thinks that guys like us are suppressing
>homoerotic impulses." Hawk: "And doing a good job of
>it, too." (Please understand that these are not
>intended to be direct quotes.) I've always found that
>particular exchange pretty funny, as well as packed
>full of subtext.

Yeah, that's something I think some people miss in the books. I think on the surface, yes, Susan and Hawk (and even Spenser, to a certain extent) may be racial stereotypes, but dig a little and the subversion that is the subtext becomes clear. The ditzy, frigid, money-grubbing Jewess (isn't that the way that stereotype goes?) becomes the educated professional/hot tamale/drinking buddy, and the dumb but street smart black thug becomes a savvy articulate and sophisticated, uh, professional criminal, closer to James Bond than Bad Bad Leroy Brown.

The racial/sexual/whatever banter plays up the stereotypes, but only for the much greater fun of poking honking big holes right through them.

They may go down real easy, but the Spenser novels, or at least the best of them, challenge conventional or at least commonly accepted thoughts on race, gender, sexuality, love and yes, even morality. For quick dumb reads, they're actually pretty smart.


Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.thrillingdetective.com
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