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THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEKEND

FINANCIAL EXPLOSION

In the current American financial meltdown no one is able to come to grips with the extent or seriousness of the damage from the subprime mortgage crisis. It is as if someone had been shot but no one is quite certain what part of the body was hit, if vital organs are involved, whether the patient is in ICU or still in emergency triage. The subprime mortgage problem is the entry wound but so far no one has found the exist wound. Meanwhile the dollar continues to bleed.

SEX IN CRIME FICTION

Crime fiction is infused with booze, sex, murder, betrayal, and mystery. Everyone seems to approve of mystery. There is a faction that would censor, restrict, hack out or dismember parts or all of the other elements (except for murder which I will get to in a minute).

Let’s start with sex. It is the weekend coming up and sex is a good place to begin the discussion. Next week I am on a panel with three other crime writers, which is being flogged locally for the sex angle of fiction written by expat writers in Thailand. One could write a crime fiction novel set in Bangkok without any sex; just as one could write a crime fiction novel set in Las Vegas and leave out gambling. The point is a male writer is expected to offer a cough onto the back of his hand and apologize, explain, rationalize writing about sex to the sexual Red Guard. Of course a writer can avoid offending such a group by removing any mention of sex and offer to undergo political rehabilitation.

In vivid contrast crime fiction readers, as a whole, have no problem with reading about murder, and indeed without at least one murder or the threat of murder as part of the story line it is doubtful whether any publisher would bother publishing the book as crime fiction. The point for contemplation is why sex makes for squeamishness and political correctness among certain readers while a brutal murder satisfies their literary urges. Perhaps there is nothing as entertaining as a good public hanging.

AUTHORS AS MAGPIES

Janet Muslin in her most recent crime fiction review in the New York Times makes a good case that a new crop of novels finds the authors borrowing similar locales, themes, stock characters, set ups and tricks. The implication isn’t that authors are intentionally copying one another, but they can’t help drawing upon the images, tricks, and set ups popping up in their common culture. There was no mention that this magpie nature of authors has turned up in use of similar scenes, toys, positions, gels, or leather in the between the sheets activities of their characters.

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