Saturday, April 7, 2012
"Chicks can't write crime fiction"
Not long ago this guy I know (not a writer but a voracious reader) made a bold statement: “Women can’t write dark crime fiction,” he says. “It’s just not in their brains. Everyone knows that.”
Oooh. Bold words, yeah?
While I admire his stones, the only real response to that sort of statement is: “You, sir, are an idiot.”
…or at the very least, someone who is not keeping up.
At this moment in the on-going development of dark, brutal crime fiction (and genre fiction in general), there are more kick-ass female writers than ever before.
I just read McDroll’s two-part novella, THE WRONG DELIVERY, and anyone who says it’s not as bold or unflinching as anything written by any male writer out there is delusional.
Last year, Katherine Tomlinson wrote one of the most devastating collections of short stories I’ve ever read, the stunning TOXIC REALITY.
And hey, have you heard of this Christa Faust chick? Wrote the ass-kicking MONEY SHOT and its sequel, CHOKEHOLD. I promise you, you can’t write anything near as tough-minded.
How about Patti Abbott? Ever heard of her? Her story collection MONKEY JUSTICE was probably the best single-author collection of the year last year. And that talent must run in the Abbott genes; Megan Abbott, her daughter, is arguably the best dark fiction crime stylist around these days—check out BURY ME DEEP, THE END OF EVERYTHING and her other novels if you don’t believe me.
Julia Madeleine is another one who writes consistently tight and mean stuff; her latest, THE TRUTH ABOUT SCARLET ROSE, is a stunner.
Oh, and hey, what about Vicki Hendricks? CRUEL POETRY is tough and racy enough to make James M. Cain blush.
And those are just off the top of my head.
But what I said earlier, about ‘not keeping up’, when I really think about it, that’s not it at all. There have ALWAYS been great female crime writers. Only a complete jack-ass with no taste at all would dismiss Patricia Highsmith, for instance. She’s one of the all-time greats.
Helen Nielson is another one. And Dorothy Hughes. And Maryjane Meeker (Vin Packer).
And here’s something the great female writers of crime fiction can claim that their male counterparts can’t: most male writers (me included) can’t do female POV to save their lives.
There are exceptions, of course (Vincent Zandri does it very well in THE REMAINS), but for the most part you don’t see it often. All the female writers mentioned above, however, can slip into the male POV as easily as slipping into an old pair of sneakers. And they don’t, as a rule, write stereotyped male characters, either—you know, the kind you see in Thelma and Louise or your typical romance novel. Their male characters are every bit as fully developed as their female characters.
So, okay, rant done. I’m just saying, Mr. Chicks Can’t Write, try breaking out of your sequestered little male-dominated world long enough to see the brilliant, hard-as-nails female writers right in front of you. The wake-up call will do you good.