15 September 2011

More on "cozies"

After disagreeing with Dan about Rhys Bowen and Molly Murphy mysteries, I discovered that the discussion group at Once Upon a Crime, a Minneapolis bookstore, was talking about Rhys Bowen last night.

I couldn't go because Nancy and I had made plans to go hear Laurie R. King at a Barnes and Noble near St. Paul. So I suggested to Dan that he might want to go.

Turns out he couldn't go either because he had tickets to hear Maria Muldaur. That turned into a digression about Muldaur (whose performances we both like) and about Pandora, which has become my primary music source.

This morning, after enjoying the presentation and reading by King, I found Laurie R. King's blog's hosting a guest blogger, Rhys Bowen!

Bowen and King, it turns out are good friends. And, as Bowen points out in the blog, they both write about women doing unusual things.

I pointed out the blog post to Dan, who wrote back,
Loved the blog--surprising connections.

What Rhys Bowen writes, about women doing things that people thought they couldn't or shouldn't, is exactly what the last two things I've written are really about: the Cokato [MN] girls playing basketball in the 1920s [the PDF version], and Amelia Earhart flying -- and consciously using her fame as a flyer to push for more opportunities for women and girls and to inspire them to grasp them.

On top of that, she makes reference to Amy Johnson (Britain's Amelia Earhart) whose biography I am currently reading. Almost weird. Thanks.

By the way, as I wrote earlier, if you didn't like Molly Murphy you would absolutely abhor Lady Georgiana. It is like going from Classic Comics to Archie and Jughead! But I love 'em. Unlucky you! 

Here are my clarifications:
  • I have no problem with women doing unconventional things. I have a problem with people doing the improbable and unlikely in fictional venues where most things seem realistic. (I like Lewis Carroll and Jasper Fforde.) My example: Bowen's Molly Murphy flees Ireland and arrives penny-less in Liverpool, where the police are looking for her. As she flees down an alley, she's pulled into an unmarked door. What greets her there? Murderous attackers? Dangerous delinquents? No. She is greeted by a woman who gives her a ticket to America so Molly can deliver two children to their father in New York. And the scheme, right out of an I Love Lucy episode, works.

  • It's not just improbabilities. Laurie R. King, who, by the way, called her Mary Russell books "cozies" last night, writes well and creates pretty believable characters. Once you get beyond the conceit of a recent Oxford grad becoming an investigatory partner to Sherlock Holmes, the rest works pretty well. It works because King describes fairly realistic characters, tells good stories, and invents good dialogue. Bowen often relies on the old standby, "and then a miracle happens" to her handsome and daring cutouts of characters. I think an author ought to offer something besides, "It'll all turn out right in the end."

  • An author ought to do more than write grammatically correct sentences and put events in chronological order. Laurie R. King might write "cozies," but she's only able to write one a year. Bowen writes 10-15 books a year. And no, she's not that more talented.
In a few days I'll finish another book and write about it here. It probably fits into the "cozy" category, but the author has a way with words and manages to create more than cardboard cutouts of characters. Just wait. You can join this discussion. Write and tell this little bit of the world what you think.

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