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Margie Orford

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Is Food Replacing Sex in Crime Fiction?

I have reached the Duke of Wellington’s ‘publish and be damned’ phase of writing. My book is off my hands and at the printers. But danger lurks, in the form of earnest interviewers. ‘What did I think,’ one asked me the other day, ‘about the fact that food is replacing sex as the recreational activity of choice in crime fiction.’

This is a theory that has been bandied about by recently by people who read crime rather than write it.I have not given it much thought as I find wrestling a plot into a semblance of coherence enough. The last thing I need is my heroine slacking off and eating strawberries in bed with handsome men. I am not paid to write Joanna Trollope novels, after all. I have tension to build, innocents to kill, killers to catch. Food in my experience, is like sex. It needs a bit the languid leeway of time, wine and the possibility of seconds to be a pleasure.

That said, it is obvious that crime fiction and the never-to-be-dismissed pleasure of the quickie have a long and entwined history. You only have to look at the covers of early crime classics – the gumshoe with a cocked gun, the bottle-blonde with the heaving bosom in the background – to know that. Crime fiction depends on big-hearted good-time girls. From Damon Runyon’s sassy broads to the high-heeled, wasp-waisted film noir blondes, to the easy lays who smoke their way through the Elmore Leonards. Much of the sex, sadly, has been of the pounce-and-thrust variety. The act itself, a knee-trembler with a new girl every fifty pages or so, never takes long. The etiquette of foreplay and after-cuddle must never get in the way of our hero from putting his fedora hat back on his head and hunting down the bad guys.

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://mayafowler.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Maya</a>
    Maya
    August 24th, 2011 @15:55 #
     
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    Great piece, Margie! Really enjoyed that.

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