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In eras tinged with chaos in the popular imagination, noir thrives.
The Street Was Mine by Megan Abbott
At the same time, noir is also weirdly ahistorical. Noir has always been a place where these desires run amok. Which do you prefer? MA: Yet these books have always existed. These are quite subversive works, filled with complicated notions of female desire and often full of female rage. Trying to strip them of their twisty power. I think there are several reasons why. On a practical level, once Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train had the kind of success that each of those works enjoyed, then publishers were more willing to take chances on other female-centered crime novels written by women.
Intensely so. I think it brought all of this anger to the surface.
The return of the repressed. We saw this last fall with the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal and the MeToo movement. As with everything in literature, something is present before it is quite articulated, and then someone identifies it, gives it a name, and the unconscious suddenly becomes conscious. AA: Somewhat ironically, male authors have begun using female or androgynous pseudonyms like Tania Carver or A. Finn to sell novels. It subverts the way that women, in the past, used pseudonyms to pretend to be men. The publishing world is very complicated and there are a number of reasons to do it.
That said, sometimes it grates on me. I think that male writers can write great female characters, even in first person.
Of course, there can be something kind of mercenary about concealing your gender or identity while publishing a book that in some way deals with issues of gender or identity. But, ultimately, the book stands if the book stands. In some ways, the hardest character for me to embody was the cheerleader who narrates my novel Dare Me. It was all very foreign to me. But once I found her voice, everything changed.
I grew to love her. I would, however, probably balk at a first-person male narrator for an entire novel.
Other considerations tend to play a bigger role in dictating point of view for me. AA: If, in Give Me Your Hand , the reader knew everything about Diane, whom Kit is haunted by for her entire adult life, there would be no opportunity for suspense. That would be tedious. But often you want to ground the novel with a stable presence, an anchor. Created by Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature.
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