Why Frank Kane is better than Stieg Larsson
What are the differences between Kane's Liz Allen and Larsson's Lisbeth Salander, besides two syllables, three novels*, and 2,260 pages? Liz does not pretend to be about big issues; at least one of Larsson's novels, on the other hand, feels compelled to include alarming statistics about violence against women as chapter epigraphs. Why Larsson or his publishers chose to do this other than as a flagrant bid to have the book regarded as a thinking person's thriller, I don't know, but the following excerpt, typical of one strand of Larsson criticism, makes the point well:
"I lost count of the book reviews I read that basically went like this: HUZZAH FEMINIST STIEG LARSSON, FEMINIST PENNER OF FEMINIST THRILLERS FOR FEMINISTS LISBETH WHAT A BABE."Larsson's detractors, that is, accuse him of wanting to have it both ways: to condemn violence against women while using that same violence to attract readers. Kane makes no such pretense; I suspect that sort of pandering was left to higher-brow authors in 1955.
Speaking of having it both ways, Salander is bisexual, which I think readers are meant to take as a sign that she is a complex, modern character, though the real reason may lie elsewhere. The discussion to which I link above notes the apparent breast fixation of Larsson's co-protagonist Mikael Blomkvist. Big tits and female bisexuality. Sound like any set of male fantasies you know?
Kane's Liz, on the other hand, endures then deflects a lesbian encounter with a mix of fascination and repulsion. It's a sexy scene, yes, but believable and utterly without self-congratulation or self-importance.
* Including the post-Larsson novel due out in the U.S. in September
© Peter Rozovsky 2015