Monday, August 13, 2012

Mind-blasting …

… Los Angeles Review of Books - On Dorothy B. Hughes. (Hat tip, dave Lull.)

… In a Lonely Place, which had then been re-released by The Feminist Press, blasted my mind open to new ways of reading. I wasn't only enjoying the story and getting creeped out by the wholly unreliable narrator, Dix Steele, but marveling at the way Hughes let readers in on what was really happening while keeping Dix in the dark about his own nefarious motivations. She was describing the psyche and actions of a serial killer years before the term existed. She depicted the crushing disappointment a war hero feels after coming home to a chorus of crickets, as well as the expectation to pick up where he’d left off — when there’s nothing to pick up. Most marvelously, Hughes turned the whole story on its head by creating strong female characters — from Dix's neighbor and purported love interest, Laurel Gray, to Sylvia, the wife of his best friend (and investigating police detective) Brub Nicolai — and putting moral victory in their hands, through their own actions. This was a feminist book (even if Hughes reportedly poo-poohed the term), written 65 years ago, but the effect was so subtle as to fool people into thinking it was just another crime novel, even an exemplary one.

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