Tuesday, June 22, 2010


If you look up lists of noir, or hardboiled fiction (and I do), you often run across Sara Paretsky's name. Dr. Paretsky writes a crime series featuring a private invesitgator named V.I Warshawski (Vic); Chicagoan, whiskey drinking, mustang driving, butt-kicking lady.

In all I find her writing certainly competent and entertaining, and recommend it. But I do have an observation for you to take and do with as you will. In previous posts I have mentioned differences in writing audiences. Manly-not manly. Much of the hard-boiled or noir fiction, the really edgy stuff, is geared toward men. Then there are the 'cozies', Agatha Christy type 'crime' books that you can cozy up with that I usually see women reading. There is a large body of crime fiction that is pretty gender neutral (to me). Paretsky's work is that body of noir that I don't see as appealing to the strictly knuckle-dragging crowd. To me, the thing that keeps me from really engaging in Paretsky's work to the degree that I do with others, say Robert Parker for instance, is in the details that I will gender-biasedly call manly details.

Compare and contrast a Sunny Randall book with a VI Warshawski tale. Different.

It's in the details.

When Vic pulls a weapon out, it's her 'colt'. The gun she keeps in a tuck holster. But what kind? Colt has made 100s of guns in the last century....

When a noir (anti) hero slides his (or her) weapon from the leather (or nylon) shoulder holster, it's a 9mm Glock 17 with pacmyer grips, laser sight. Heavier in his (or her) hand than the Glock 19 and redolent with the smell of cleaning fluid and old gunpowder, or better yet, cordite.

Accessory or life partner? This isn't to say crime fiction written from a manly viewpoint wouldn't also assume that a gun is just a prop...it's just not the manly crime fiction I read.

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