Re: RARA-AVIS: Deadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins and the female POV

Date: 04 Feb 2008

Dave wrote:

"It's a fun book, pure hardboiled, smooth and professionally written, and unlike some other books I've read with a first person POV from a woman written by a guy, you're not thinking while you're reading this that a guy wrote it. . . . One thing that I found kind of amusing (and doesn't detract from the book) is Collins having his woman PI constantly describing everybodies wardrobe (as well as her own frequent wardrobe changes) to drive home the point that this is a woman's POV."

I'm halfway through it and my take is opposite of yours. I'm having a lot of trouble believing hers is a female voice. I was a fan of the comic, but the novel form seems to me to highlight the cardboardness of this female who is more male than males (for instance, the target practice scene). And I have found bits like the fashion notes heavyhanded, a poor substitute for deeper characterization.

This is not to say I'm not enjoying it (although I'll be very disappointed if the who whodunnit is who I've thought it is since about 20 pages in, even before I knew what was done), but it has gotten me thinking about the difference between a male and female voice.

What makes a voice female or male, and must one be of that gender to pull it off, especially in the first person? Based on my entirely unscientific sampling, women are more convincing writing male 1st than vice versa. After all the male voice is by far the dominant one in our society, and certainly in our area of lit, so women have a lot of exposure to it, whereas many of the pockets of society (and media) where the female voice is dominant can be ignored or consciously avoided and/or ridiculed. So there are many women who have written convincingly as men, from Leigh Brackett to Sandra Scoppetone as Jack Early (and am I the only one who has come to suspect any author with intials instead of a name is more likely to be a women, like JA Jance?). But, as Dave points out, few men can write first person female convincingly, the first two Nina Zero books (all I've read by Eversz) among the few.

Of course, this still begs the question of what distinguishes male and female voices.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 04 Feb 2008 EST