RARA-AVIS: Re: Detective Agency

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 07 Sep 2006

On Sep 7, 2006, at 9:37 AM, miker wrote:

> For many years tough guy characters ruled the
> hardboiled genre, with only the occasional female
> writer or detective making an appearance. Then, after
> over fifty years of male dominance, hardboiled women
> detectives swarmed the stage. Marcia Muller's Edward
> of the Iron Shoes, published in 1977, is commonly
> recognized as the cornerstone of the new movement. It
> was notably followed by Sue Grafton's A is for Alibi
> in 1982, and the trend showed no signs of diminishing
> in 1991 when Sara Paretsky introduced her first V.I.
> Warshawski novel.

Paretsky appeared about the same time as Grafton, not nine years later. Did they actually make that mistake in their book? How embarrassing for them!

> There are many positive aspects to Detective Agency (but) their
> research into the traditional hardboiled genre was
> woefully inadequate, or else they purposely chose to
> misrepresent it through their own text and multiple
> quotes that miss the mark.

It's pretty much the same problem I have with many of these feminist- slanted looks at the genre (or any issue-oriented take on the genre). There's too much feminism and too much slanting going on, and not enough actual looking.

For example, Grafton, Paretsky and Muller are often presented as the literary descendants of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, et al, but anyone who's read any of them knows that their inspiration is obviously Hammett, Chandler and Macdonald.

Hell, it's a point that Grafton, Paretsky and Muller themselves have all made at different times -- all of them are very knowlegable about the genre.

> It is perhaps ironic that they would
> choose to ignore one of the primary precepts of the
> hardboiled genre, that a message delivered in clear
> and simple prose is the more forceful and convincing.

Yeah, ain't it? Man, them academic types sure use big words.

Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.thrillingdetective.com New issue any day now...

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 07 Sep 2006 EDT