Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Writing in an Age of Silence

by Sara Paretsky.

Sara Paretsky is best known as the writer of the V I Warshawski series of detective novels. I found this little treasure in my favourite book-o-holic den, The University Book Shop and couldn't resist.

I thought it was going to be the usual type of memoir by a writer, fascinating, inspirational, instructive, which it was, but it was also far more than that. It was a real eye-opener.

This book is very, very political, and it explores the personal and political climate that moulded and developed her signature character. Paretski was a young woman in the mid-sixties, in the midst of the civil rights movement which she saw from the periphery and from the perspective of the Polish families, as she was staying in a Polish neighbourhood. She talks about how this time materialised in her writing.

She also talks passionately about feminism and her involvement with the women's movement, in particular with women's rights to control their fertility. She voices her concern at how female characters are portrayed in fiction, and especially crime fiction, and how that informed the charcteristics she gave V I Warshawsi.

The chapter on the erosion of civil liberties in the United States post 9/11 was shocking.

I am so glad I picked this book out, as it opened my eyes and my thinking beyond the surface of many issues, and is an insight to the woman, and her character.

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