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Have Women Writers Really Been Boxed Out of the Thriller World?

Category: Art & Culture,Books

To the Editor:

When I started reading Vanessa Friedman’s thriller roundup (June 2), I wanted to fly to New York and stand screaming outside your building. Of course I’m always delighted — thrilled — when women writers are recognized. But Friedman repeats the tired old trope that women have been on the margins of the thriller world forever, and are only breaking into it in this #MeToo era.

When I read that “the traditionally male-dominated world of the thriller” is finally “ceding ground to … a hero(ine),” I wondered what Friedman had been reading for the past 40 years. That’s how long it’s been since Marcia Muller put the first crack in the wall around male territory. She was followed quickly by Sue Grafton, Liza Cody, Linda Barnes — and me.

We were joined by Val McDermid and Nevada Barr, by Valerie Wilson Wesley and Ann Cleeves, by Rachel Howe Hazlett and Maureen Jennings, and many others.

Believe me, much as I love Gillian Flynn’s work, women weren’t dying for want of air on the fringes of the field until she arrived; we were recreating it and creating strong women characters who spoke to readers everywhere. (In Japan, our books are prominently displayed in bookstores in a section called the Four F’s: female writer, female protagonist, female translator, female editor.)

Sisters in Crime, an organization I helped start in 1986, now has almost 4,000 members around the world and not only helps to bring women’s voices into print but helps bring those voices to readers.

If Friedman or anyone else on the Times editorial staff would like a copy of our “Books in Print,” please let me know. Or talk to your own crime columnist, Marilyn Stasio, who has had her finger on this particular pulse for more than 30 years.

SARA PARETSKY
CHICAGO

The writer is the creator of the V.I. Warshawski crime novels, the most recent of which is “Shell Game.”

To the Editor:

Although I enjoyed Ada Calhoun’s review of Tyler Kepner’s “K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches” (June 2), I was disappointed that she didn’t mention Sandy Koufax and his unhittable curveball. I saw that curve in action, as well as the famous fastball, against the Mets in a doubleheader on June 30, 1962. (Don Drysdale won the second game.) Koufax struck out the first three batters on nine pitches. It was the first of his four no-hitters.

J.R. SOLONCHE
BLOOMING GROVE, N.Y.

To the Editor:

In her review of “K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches,” Ada Calhoun swings and misses by criticizing Tyler Kepner for “hokeyness” in describing the former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton as someone who “can still grip a baseball, and baseball still grips him.”

In fact, Kepner’s description pays homage to Bouton’s observation in his 1970 baseball diary, “Ball Four,” that as a baseball player “you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.”

MARK S. STERNMAN
SOMERVILLE, MASS.

To the Editor:

Ibram X. Kendi is correct that we need to strive to be antiracists in our daily lives, and the books he recommends in his “Antiracist Book List” (June 2) would help any of us think better about race in the United States. But it’s surprising that all but one of the books on his list are focused on African-Americans. As important as those books are to an understanding of race in America, we have to take account of the entire racial hierarchy and the racism directed at other groups (for example, Asian-Americans and Latinos). We would be even better served by expanding our reading to include the many important works that address the racial experiences of others in the United States.

NANCY E. RILEY
BRUNSWICK, ME.

The writer is a professor of social sciences at Bowdoin College.

To the Editor:

In his By the Book interview (June 2), George F. Will elevates “The Great Gatsby” (which never helped any adolescent, sullen or otherwise) and strangulates “The Catcher in the Rye” (which takes the sullenness out of adolescence for thousands to this very day). What would Holden Caulfield make of him? Well, if you really want to hear about it, you know the word.

(REV.) ALAN F. STEINKE
MASSAPEQUA, N.Y.

To the Editor:

I was pleased that George F. Will called readers’ attention to Peter De Vries, a long-ago chronicler of suburban Connecticut at its worst and most hilarious. I bought a copy of his classic “Reuben, Reuben” in 1965 at age 17 and after the first five pages I thought, “Wait a minute. These are my mother’s friends. This is my friend’s network-president dad, who can’t communicate with his wife or son.” Thanks for honoring this author, who championed strangers in their own land, a state many of us inhabit in 2019 America.

JEANNIE BOOTH
JACKSON, MISS.


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