Women and “cult fiction”

A few days ago I finished Scarlett Thomas’s THE END OF MR. Y, a novel that expanded my brain not unlike Richard Powers’ THE ECHO MAKER (and not just because both books deal with consciousness, albeit in very very different ways.) But it wasn’t that long ago that Thomas was writing crime novels, and in this essay she reprints on her website, she explains her evolution and the publishing industry’s biggest faults.

Read the whole thing and then ponder the question she asks: where are the female cult fiction writers of now? Where are the women who wrestle with the same questions that Powers, David Foster Wallace, William Vollmann, David Mitchell (to name a few) deal with? Are they being manufactured into categories, rightfully or wrongfully? Do they suffer under the weight of Hot Young Author Chick Syndrome or another marketing-based ploy? Do they exist within genre fiction, like Thomas once did, and only require freedom and time to explore ideas that don’t fit within these confines? Are they even writing books for adults, or for the younger set? This, I suppose, relates to the “women reading Pynchon” question I posed on GalleyCat earlier this week, and more tangentially, John Rickards’ bittersweet realization that his new book is “just another Rourke novel.”

I can think of several women writers who fit the bill, and more often than not they seem to be refugees (or reluctant dwellers) of crime and noir fiction, but I’d rather open the floor to discussion.

(And unrelated, Thomas’s MySpace page is pretty damn funny.)