Re: RARA-AVIS: "Feminine Detectives and the Challenge of Hardboiledness"

Date: 01 Aug 2003

In a message dated 7/31/03 5:03:40 PM, writes:

<< can the genre be

  considered to subordinate a compassionate, community centered female


 to a stoic, aggressive response of the male hero who must act alone,

  outside the law, and in isolation from females, even those he admires? >>

    Remove the words "female" and "male" from your question and you have part of your answer. Hard-boiled heroes (since Hammett & Chandler) have shown compassion, but IMO no hard-boiled protagonist looks for "community based solutions" OTHER THAN those who arise from some police procedural novels (Don Harstad comes to mind). As for isolation from the opposite sex, the genre is loaded with men and women protagonists who develop long lasting relationships with their love interests.
    I guess I can't buy your summing up of the genre in either definition. At one time hard-boiled may have been close to your description, but I think the walls crumbled long ago, and today's male protagonist may be as compassionate and as happily unisolated as John Lutz's Ray Carver or as aggressive and solitary as Donald Westlake's Parker.
    As for women protagonists, Kinsey Milhone is no more compassionate and community centered than Lew Archer, though she's a bit more social, and Laura Lippman's books show us a woman who is tough, aggressive, compassionate, and interested in romantic relationships that have legs.

                                    Jim Blue


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