Stirring up several debates
First there was the spirited backblog discussion in the wake of the Edgar nomination announcement. Then Tod Goldberg announced he couldn’t stomach reading most mystery novels (which is just a tad reminiscent of Ben Yagoda’s Salon piece from a couple of years ago which, of course, provoked lots of controversy.) And here’s Bruce DaSilva of AP, who manages to drop a lovely little throwaway graf in the midst of his virtual love song to Sara Gran’s DOPE, dubbing it “the first great noir novel from the mind of a woman”:
It’s certainly not that women can’t write well about crime. Patricia
Highsmith and P.D. James are the queens of the puzzle mystery, and Ann
Rule rules the true crime field. But noir has always been a
distinctively male sensibility. Women such as Sara Paretsky and Sue
Grafton have tried their hand at it, but, despite commercial success,
have failed to write a good book.
Um, condescending, much? Of course, I’ve written extensively about who I consider to be the grand dame of noir, and though I’ve yet to read her stuff — soon to be rectified — Vera Caspary sure tackled the seamy underbelly with critical and commercial success. And that’s the more distant past, while the most recent to present has to include Vicki Hendricks, Joolz Denby and Denise Mina and Megan Abbott, to name a few.
Although of course, therein lies the problem: there really are but a few women writing this sort of thing. So when one who does comes along in such spectacular fashion as Gran has — with a corresponding push from the publisher and buzz generated by booksellers and internet types like yours truly — people are going to start making claims that aren’t necessary true.