"Saucer-eyed, skull-grinning, jut-jawed, false-breasted, fake-fannied..."
"There was a lot of her already in the room before the rest of her got in."is one of the tamer examples.
Gil Brewer's 1954 novel A Killer Is Loose, about a down-on-his-luck father-to-be who saves the wrong man's life, shares the predilection for tall, curvaceous women, but its descriptions of them are brief, matter-of-fact, and almost chastely decorous.
Instead, Brewer saves his verbal steam—enough of it to run several turbines, a manufacturing plant or two, and a small city—for the opposite physical type:
"She was one of those ash-blonde, bony, saucer-eyed, skull-grinning, jut-jawed, false-breasted, fake-fannied, angle-posing, empty-thighed in betweens they stamp out like tin slats for Venetian blinds in some bloodless, airless underground factory to supply that increasingly bewildering demand for sexless models such as she for certain women's fashion magazines, where they loll backward gaping and pinch nostriled in tight red and silver sashes, over an old freshly varnished beer barrel, holding long skinny umbrellas, point down in a sand dune. Sometimes you see them swooning pipe-lidded, paper-pale over a swirling Martini in a triple-sized cocktail glass with their long fleshless golden-tipped claws clamped buzzard-like around the stem. Give me curves, dimples, and swollen thighs, every time. I'm an easy man to please."I'm not sure I like that invocation of buzzards (animal comparisons are often problematic), but the overall description contains much to enjoy and to provoke thought. For one thing, it goes beyond physical description to sketch the woman's character. (She's shrill, cruel at no risk to herself, and not a nice person.) For another, though I don't mean to suggest that such was Gil Brewer's intent, the description might strike a chord today, in a culture suffused with worry over obsessive desire by some women and girls for unhealthy skinniness and of occasional outbursts of anger toward a fashion industry that glorifies such a look. Gil Brewer would have had no trouble agreeing that real women have curves.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013