RARA-AVIS: "female noir"

From: DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net
Date: 26 Apr 2005


I have a few questions about "female noir":

First, there's that blurb that describes you as the Queen of Female Noir. Now this is obviously meant as a compliment, and your publishers clearly see it as good for marketing (at which I hope it is very successful), but I wonder if you have any thoughts about the word
"female" as a qualifier in that title. I mean, Thompson, Cain or Goodis, or whoever one might think is the king, would be called the King of Noir, period, not the King of Male Noir. So why must you be the Queen of Female Noir instead of just the Queen of Noir? (Do his Nina Zero books make Robert Eversz the King of Female Noir?) That kind of leads to my next question . . .

Does it bother you that your gender is always brought up. Yes, you write about female characters, but that doesn't make them any less interesting, often makes them more so, since they are still a bit of a novelty as a point of view character in noir. So why must that one aspect be underlined or separated out (by others, not by you)? Gender is just one of many distinguishing characteristics, so why is so much more attention paid it than others, such as profession, class, region, race (well, race is separated out in a similar way -- Black Lit), etc? Do you think it's simply the novelty? Will it lose that distinction when there are more female writers and protagonists in the field? You've mentioned that you and other female writers are always put on the same, separate panels at conventions. I hope it at least helps you sell more books.

Finally, I have a question more specific to your own novels. And I must admit that I'm about to be guilty of just what I was asking about above, treating you as if your books represent all women, whereas it would never occur to me to think of the many men who follow femmes fatales to their fates as exemplifiying all men, but . . . In all three of your books that I have read (Miami Purity, Iguana Love and Sky Blues), the women pay for being highly sexual, for being led by their vaginas in the same way many noir men are led by their dicks (as you note, it's actually just one of many areas in which each protagonist begins to
"take risks"). Why must they pay for their attempted freedom? It's very clear in each book why those particular characters end up paying, but I was wondering about your thoughts on the issue, since your returning to it seems to indicate that the theme is important to you. And do you think of these women as "acting like men," particulary in their sexual behavior? I'm guessing that you do, at least in Iguana Love, where she actually grows a faux phallus, but is that your view, that women pay for acting like men? And if so, is that prescriptive on your part or simply a reflection of how you see gender relations in our current society? You also mentioned that men tend to relate to the sexual women in your books much better than women do -- do you think they're responding to the sex or the payment due at the end? Maybe both, offering the fantasy, but returning to reality at the end?

Thanks for your thoughts on everything you've discussed this month. The glimpse behind the curtain has been very interesting and enlightening. Also, thanks for a lot of good reading in the novels of yours I have read and those I will read in the future.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 26 Apr 2005 EDT