Thursday, September 10, 2015

Weinman and Abbott on Eight Women Crime Writers: Provocative but not polemical

Sarah Weinman
Megan Abbott
Sarah Weinman had a good interlocutor for Wednesday's launch of Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s and the 1950s, newly out from the Library of America and edited by Weinman.  Her questioner was Megan Abbott, and between them, they talked not just about the eight writers in the collection, but about the audience for those writers, about the world in which they wrote, about the reception for their work, about their equivocal place in the crime fiction canon, and about how the collection was put together.  And they did it all without polemics.

Among the provocative notions that emerged: Abbott's suggestion that women may be better suited to writing noir than men because, while men believe that they can make a difference, and hence tend to write stories in which redemption plays a role, "I don't think any woman ever believes that." Now, a statement like that, broadcast in the wrong circles to the wrong people (the brainless kind), could obviously draw much flak.

Here, though, while Abbott's remark send a flurry of excitement through the audience (they packed the house at New York's Mysterious Bookshop), the idea served to stimulate discussion, to be revised, argued, and defended as necessary.  That's what intelligent, interested people do, and it was a pleasure to spend a couple of hours among them.
Sarah Weinman will talk about Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, whose novel The Blank Wall is part of Eight Women Crime Writers, on a panel I'll moderate at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, N.C. The panel is called "Beyond Hammett, Chandler, Spillane, and Macdonald," and happens Thursday, Oct. 8, at 2:30 p.m.

© Peter Rozovsky 2015 

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Blogger seana graham said...

Well, I think there have always been women who think they can make a difference, but perhaps are less surprised when they don't.

Actually, that may be the opposite of noir.

September 11, 2015  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I wish Megan were on the panel, so I could ask her to explore the matter further. I suspect she meant something like what you suggested. In Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's novel The Blank Wall, which I just read and which is part of Eight Women Writers, the protagonist's main objective is accomplished by novel's end, but she her self is in exactly the same emotional place as she was at the beginning. To me, anyhow, that's what gives the novel its noir punch.

The title Women Crime Writers is of an interesting grammatical construction, by the way. I suspect most people would choose that title over WomAn Crime Writers, but adjectives do not generally decline my number: the red shoe, the red shoes.

September 11, 2015  

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