Tom Hanks’s writing is yet another sad story of how men write women
The actor’s debut collection, Uncommon Type, is blighted by Hollywood’s obsession with female bodies – but he’s not the only author to write too much about hair and breasts
The article above came to mind when I read the first chapter of Peter Robinson’s Gallows View.
The book starts with a description of a Peeping Tom watching a woman undress, culminating in him being seen through the window by his victim as she stands naked in her bedroom. It was an uncomfortable page or two to read. Are the writer and reader any different to the fictional voyeur merely because they are viewing words vividly depicting the victim’s nakedness instead of literally looking through the window themselves?
Early on, I found the “obsession with female bodies” further demonstrated when the term “luscious mouth” was a prominent part of a description of a female psychological expert called in to advise on the case. It’s just not the kind of thing that would have been seriously used if it had been describing a man.
But two things helped the the book. Firstly recognising that it was written over 30 years ago and is a product of its time. Secondly, it does move on, attempting to address the kind of gender issues that it seems to transgress in the beginning. While that attempt might not completely succeed, I think it does a passable job for a book of the mid-eighties.
Gallows View is the first of Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks series. The above mentioned situation with the Peeping Tom is woven with the investigation of a spate of robberies that grow increasingly violent and destructive, and Alan Banks finds that his work can encroach upon his private life in numerous ways.
As with my earlier introduction to crime fiction I was draw to the series via a TV adaptation. The TV show picks up the career of DCI Alan Banks about halfway through the book series, so there is a lot of back story to be discovered through the earlier books, and I’ll be interested to see how the writing develops along the way as well as the lives of the major players.
One DCI Banks book down – twenty three more (to date) to go…