RARA-AVIS: mars and venus in the bookstore

From: Carrie Pruett ( pruettc@hotmail.com)
Date: 30 Apr 2002

have we been here before?

Mark wrote:
>>I agree with you that men are more likely to be on
>>this list than are women
>>only because of its subject matter.

and George wrote:
>I recently told my wife an idea I had for a
>hard-boiled publication. Her response: "Can't you
>come up with something that women will like too?"

I do think that "classic hard boiled" is probably more of a guy thing demographically; the stories are mostly by and about men. And it's also partly self-fulfilling. A lot of, say, Elmore Leonard and Larry Block stories over the years to today have been printed in "men's magazines" from Esquire to Playboy, which women are generally less likely to buy in the first place. I mean, I'll read Esquire or GQ for the stories but I don't think that now or ever I would have picked up a Playboy for the articles (do they still have fiction?) I don't care if they're great articles, there's too much "you know I don't really wanna look at that" to wade through, not to mention the process of buying the thing in the first place. and I mean, if my boyfriend bought it, he's not gonna show me (hey honey there's a great new Keller story between the naked movie star and Miss February) and if my brother bought it I don't wanna *touch* it. If i'm gonna see these stories it's only gonna be a few years later when someone decides to anthologize them.

I'm being a little facetious here, but this is a genre that has been traditionally marketed to men, and while I'm sure there are many enterprising women who have sought these writers out over the years, we're not likely to stumble on em by accident.

And it's clearly not violence that turns off female readers. The fan communities for "Homicide," "Oz," "the X-files", etc are heavily female, even shows that do seem to skew to a more male audience - NYPD Blue, the Sopranos, Law & Order - attract a substantial female following. I know plenty of female fans of all of the most violent and hardboiled writers I can think of, and in fact the whole "forensic" genre (Cornwell, Reichs, etc) is heavily female. I wouldn't call most of these books hard-boiled in the sense it's used on this list (outside rara I've most often seen the term used generically for anything that's violent, gorey and non-cozy) but they're generally at least as violent and almost always gorier than a lot of what we'd call "true" hardboiled.

just a few scattered thoughts, here, not trying to make any big point. i've found that most generalizations about who reads what turn out to be wrong.


He got thirty years for lovin' her/ from some Oklahoma governor,/ who said
"everything this doughboy does is wrong" - Tom Waits

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