Friday, May 11, 2007

speaking of silence ...

Paretsky, Sara. Writing in an Age of Silence. May 2007. Verso. 158 p. endnotes. ISBN 978-1-84467-122-9. $22.95

for Library Journal

Writing in an Age of Silence, catalogued as an autobiographical essay collection, develops as a conscientious objection to the new American McCarthyism. Not that Sara Paretsky, bestselling author of a dozen novels, lets die-hard mystery fans down. She shares her development process for V.I. Warshawski, her famous protagonist and South Side Chicago private eye, and compares Warshawski with male counterparts Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade. Paretsky offers a feminist interpretation of the loner hero’s code of justice and an analysis of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett’s influence on her work. Still, the final—and most political—chapter resonates most. A volunteer in Gage Park during Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1966 summer march and a feminist since the second wave crested, Paretsky renounces contemporary U.S. policies in a gutsy inventory of the civil rights infringements that threaten her livelihood, including unlawful search and seizure and arrest & detainment without habeas corpus. Paretsky’s vocational purpose finds its best expression in her apt Tennyson epigraph: ‘though much is taken, much abides.’ Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-—Elizabeth Kennedy, Oakland, CA