I miss plain brains


I’m often at am impasse as a consumer and writer of the supernatural as to how much creepy and kick-butt girl-power is required. In choosing film, I almost always prefer the subtle approach, a quiet heroine, an understated side figure. But in fiction, the same half measures don’t come off. Take the Turn of the Screw. I adore this book, but, being early 20th century horror, it’s lightweight compared to today’s dark fantasies, especially in its handling of female characters. Can a story incorporate average looking girls and subtle or NO violence and still gain admittance on the noir and fantasy shelf? Do you notice it’s almost impossible to find a fantasy heroine who doesn’t have a tight shirt and a crossbow or a vial of poison or a homicidal pet? There used to be room on the shelf for simply a strong character, with a mind of her own.Maybe it’s because of The Walking Dead, or because every kid on Bitchy Little Liars has a rap sheet, but most of our lady protagonists can’t make it to the page without savaging someone via biting, sword fighting, kick boxing, or the like.


























My quest of the moment is to find a young (say, under 28 years) protagonist who is effective without having to act like a man, i.e. kick someone’s ass. I’d like to read about a skill at something gentle, like lip reading. I know — how banal! And for today’s young readers, not sexy enough? I like what Ransom Riggs is doing with this motif. His Peculiars gain their strength by just being invisible or floating into the air. Even his England, though, winds up with guts flying. Is this an inevitable, though? Or can the not so badass mousy girls get in on the action, flat chests and all, because they’re smart and capable. Full stop.

I’m hoping my next read, this collection by Silvina Ocamp0, will cast its hero in a subtler light. I have read some descriptions that her tales tend to the ghost story as opposed to the ultra violent, and I’m crossing fingers that I won’t have to do a body count in the last chapter. But we’ll see. I miss Encyclopedia Brown!



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