RARA-AVIS: misogyny and noir

From: Jay Gertzman ( jgertzma@earthlink.net)
Date: 03 Oct 2003

"But I think the distinction that should be made, and that's made almost from page one, is that this is about misogyny, as opposed to books by Jim Thompson, which are misogynistic." The introduction to the Hughes' novel makes this point over and over, assuming (as does the publisher quoted above) that [1] it is incontrovertably true that Hughes' theme is that males have contempt for women [2] Hughes subverts the conventions of the crime novel to do so, even though it seems that the vigor of the book lies in part in its atmospheric use of the underside of urban life [3] the value of the book is that it does contain this underlying theme. I did not find the essay convincing, patly b/c it was so obvious that the writer did not think it was necessary to document her assumption at length. But I do feel that if this is so, the book is not "noir." Noir does not make absolute distinctions between good and evil, and is too deep an analysis of *human* motives to be didactic. Nor do good critics of this genre beg such questions as whether or not Jim Thompson is mysogynistic. Many of his characters are in the grip obsessions which make them destructive of other humans, some of whom are female.

I am not optimistic about this series.

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