(urth) Wolfe: Misogynist or Realist?

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes danldo at gmail.com
Tue Oct 17 15:15:25 PDT 2006

A distinction here.

Most kinds of stories, and certainly the kind Wolfe writes,
need to have people in them who do bad things -- even
unambiguously, horribly bad things.

The question in my mind is what attitude the writer takes
toward those things. NOT, I hasten to say, the narrator, but
the writer, including the writer's handpuppet, the Narrative
Voice. Does the text dwell lovingly on the details of each new
atrocity (as does, say, Clive Barker; but then, Barker is
writing horror when he does this)? Is it described in a
clinical and detached manner?

Some ways of approaching an action in a text, even when
the narrator speaks disapprovingly of that act, bespeak
another attitude on the part of the writer. Orson Scott
Card's constant fantasies about the torture, death, and
castration of young boys eventually led me to be unable
to read him anymore, not because I have any particular
reason to believe that Scott wants to torture, kill, and
castrate young boys, but because I grew too conscious
of the blatant way in which he was using that particular
tactic to manipulate my emotions. (It didn't help that I've
seen him speak at length about how deliberately he does

Then there's the narrator in certain kinds of porn (often
the most sadistic) who constantly bewails the terrible
things happening to the female "protagonist:" the
"Justine" syndrome.

I'm not suggesting that Wolfe falls into either of these

I AM saying that I have come to find the sheer quantity
of violence against women in his narratives disturbing,
and I think it needs further thinking-about by people who
understand this sort of thing better than I do.

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes, writer, trainer, bon vivant
Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open
sewer and die.
  - Mel Brooks

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