aesmael: (transformation)

Tell Me Who to Kill by Ian Rankin

Originally published 2003 in Mysterious Pleasures; this edition 2004, 2005 printing

Publisher: Allison & Busby Limited

Collected in: The Best British Mysteries 2005 (ed. Maxim Jakubowski)

 

PG

Parental Guidance recommended for audiences under 15 years of age

(D, V)

Drug Use {PG} (G: pre-story beer consumption; coffee; paracetamol. PG: viewpoint character smoking cigarettes; whisky (on-screen, plus POV character's consumption of the listed items adding up); acquisition and drinking of a lager 4-pack)

Violence {PG} (set-up is accident victim; no sense of ongoing threat or menace, but surrounding character portrayal invites us to regard the victim and the driver's humanity, a personal rather than abstract tragedy)

 

Representations

Gender:

Women present in relationship roles - distraught wife, non-distraught wife, absent girlfriend. Tension of the "husband angry at idea of wife spending 'all his money'", 'passionate relationship' sort.

(had thought a woman was present as a nurse, but checking back that was my presumption, not Rankin's. although the surgeon is gendered male.)

Sex:

Only heterosexual relationships depicted and driving the story

Race & Ethnicity:

A black couple (male-female relationship) play a role later on, described "Not just coffee-coloured, but as black as ebony" to emphasise their blackness. POV character thinking his visit as a police officer may have unintended negative social consequences for them due to neighbourhood prejudice. The man in this relationship is a star soccer player.

One character marked as white, but seems safe to assume all others were also.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

Only in that a character was a physiotherapist.

Awards

Not found

Notes

Detective Inspectors with business cards. I keep being surprised, but it makes sense when I think about it.

Hadn't read any Inspector Rebus stories previously, but had been meaning. Since this opening tale was one of my favourites of the entire collection I've definitely no changed my mind on that. Nicely detective-oriented short piece, despite several moments toward the end when details noticeably kept from the reader to drag it out a little longer.

aesmael: (sudden sailor)

Usagi Yojimbo Book 5: Lone Goat and Kid: 5. Lone Goat and Kid by Stan Sakai

Originally published September 1990 in Usagi Yojimbo Volume 1, Issue 24; this edition August 1992, July, 2008 printing

Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

 

M

Not recommended for persons under 15 years of age, but no legal restrictions

(V)

Violence {M}

 

Representations

Gender:

No female characters present.

Sex:

Only relationship depicted is father-son.

Race & Ethnicity:

Characters are all anthropomorphic animals in a culturally Japanese (Edo period) setting.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

None noticed.

 

Awards

None found

 

Notes

This title story for the collection is quite unabashedly playing off the manga classic Lone Wolf and Cub.

Highest rating for the book and thus overall rating: M.

aesmael: (tricicat)

Usagi Yojimbo Book 5: Lone Goat and Kid: 4. The Way of the Samurai by Stan Sakai

Originally published July 1990 in Usagi Yojimbo Volume 1, Issue 23; this edition August 1992, July, 2008 printing

Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

 

PG

Parental Guidance recommended for audiences under 15 years of age

(V, H)

 

Some violence {PG}

Some supernatural references {unweighted}

 

Representations

Gender:

Significant and speaking characters all male, women present in background only.

Sex:

No presence.

Race & Ethnicity:

Characters are all anthropomorphic animals in a culturally Japanese (Edo period) setting.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

A character is terminally ill, seeks honourable death by blade rather than face disability before death.

Awards

None found

Notes

Many of the stories in this volume have been varying degrees of bittersweet, concerning death and satisfaction in life, and this is one of them. Leads into and sets up the next story.

aesmael: (haircut)

Usagi Yojimbo Book 5: Lone Goat and Kid: 3. Blood Wings by Stan Sakai

Originally published April 1990 in Usagi Yojimbo Volume 1, Issue 21 and June 1990 in Usagi Yojimbo Volume 1, Issue 22; this edition August 1992, July, 2008 printing

Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

 

M

Not recommended for persons under 15 years of age, but no legal restrictions

(V, L)

Violence {M}

Minor Coarse Language {G}

 

Representations

Gender:

Significant characters male, women in the village in background or to-be-protected roles.

Sex:

Only implicit in the existence of children.

Race & Ethnicity:

Characters are all anthropomorphic animals in a culturally Japanese (Edo period) setting.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

None noticed.

Awards

None found

Notes

At some point prior to this story I realised the signifier of character death is a thought bubble showing the skull and crossbones, but I hadn't remarked on the convention until seeing it here reminded me.

Continuity story, referencing events from the extended plot-line in the collection prior to this, which I could not get hold of.

Since the menace of the story is bat ninjas, there must be Batman references. "Man, what a dark night!" and a few panels later "Holy flying furball! It's bats, man!" (the latter of which is why I marked for G-rated coarse language).

aesmael: (writing things down)

Usagi Yojimbo Book 5: Lone Goat and Kid: 2. A Kite Story by Stan Sakai

Originally published February 1990 in Usagi Yojimbo Volume 1, Issue 20; this edition August 1992, July, 2008 printing

Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

 

PG

 Parental Guidance recommended for audiences under 15 years of age

(V)

Some violence {G}

 

Representations

Gender:

All characters male.

Sex:

No relationships or sex depicted.

Race & Ethnicity:

Characters are all anthropomorphic animals in a culturally Japanese (Edo period) setting.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

None noticed.

Awards

None found.

Notes

I want to say this story was simpler than the last one, but plot-wise it is not a lot simpler. If it is simpler, it is simpler emotionally, with a kite-maker's ambition to make the best kite he can temporarily thwarted by a rampaging mob.

aesmael: (tricicat)

Usagi Yojimbo Book 5: Lone Goat and Kid: 1. Frost & Fire by Stan Sakai

Originally published December 1989 in Usagi Yojimbo Volume 1, Issue 19; this edition August 1992, July, 2008 printing

Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

 

M

Not recommended for persons under 15 years of age, but no legal restrictions

(D, V)

Mild drug use {PG} {tea, alcohol}

Violence {M}

 

Representations

Gender:

Only two female characters, depicted in tension with each other - loveless, honour-bound wife vs passionate peasant lover.

Sex:

Heterosexual relationships only, a marriage and the passionate violation of same.

Race & Ethnicity:

Characters are all anthropomorphic animals in a culturally Japanese (Edo period) setting.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

'Crazy' as insult.

Awards

None found

Notes

Tragic story. Loveless marriage. Inadvertent sibling murder. Shiftless, grasping villain whose greed destroys all those around him and then himself.

aesmael: (tricicat)

The Prodigal Spy by Joseph Kanon

Originally published 1999; this edition 2000

Publisher: Abacus 

RC
Refused Classification; not for sale

(D, L, S, N, V)

Drug Use and References {MA15+} {Alcohol; Coffee; Marijuana; Smuggling (personal quantities of) marijuana across international borders; Smoking marijuana while driving}

Coarse Language {PG}

Nudity {MA15+}

Sex Scenes {X18+}

Violence {M}

 

Representations

Gender:

Mix of male and female roles. Active roles mostly to men, but not exclusively. Thematic focus on father-son relations.

Sex:

Heterosexual relationships only, within or without marriage, but no 'infidelity'. A relatively graphic scene depicting oral and PIV sex.

Race & Ethnicity:

Characters almost exclusively white American or white Eastern European. At least one character African American, but no speaking role.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

A character is terminally ill.

 

Awards

None found.

 

Notes

I got this book because I'd noticed it on the shelf at the library where I work, and it seemed potentially interesting, and then a couple of weeks or months later it got weeded, so I claimed it. Caught my interest strongly from the beginning but then never delivered. Found the plot overall too forecastable too far ahead.

Rating this was a bit tricky, especially with the sex scene. Ended up asking myself "If this were filmed as-written, what would have to be shown? Could it be filmed with actors simulating sex, or would there need to be some degree of actual sexual contact going on?" Came down on the side of an accurate representation of the scene requiring sexual contact, which means by the rules there can be no violence coexisting in the story so it has to fall into Refused Classification.

The drug rating was idiosyncratic. Technically any rating from PG to MA goes to "Drug use should be justified by context", which I find so ambiguous as to be almost useless. For socially acceptable, legal drugs like coffee or alcohol I weight those to the low end of the rating scale, raising it as the behaviour depicted becomes less socially acceptable. Mostly illegal drugs would go under R18+ where "Drug use is permitted", unless the depiction is some manner of 'drugs are bad for you'. Since marijuana is in a fuzzy position of being almost socially acceptable and either legalised or experiencing a big push for legalisation in many jurisdictions I went for a compromise and treated it like a legal drug, but starting the scale at a higher rating than those get - the existence of marijuana in the story makes for an automatic PG, stepping higher for what I judge would be regarded against society-at-large as more severe or less-approved uses. In this case the characters enjoy the drug on multiple occasions, transport it across national lines despite express concern for severe consequences if caught (from England to Soviet Czechoslovakia), and indulge while driving a car. So I put that at MA, while if they'd got in trouble for their usage it might have only been an M rating since even though I personally don't care if folks use the stuff, I'm trying my best to interpret and apply a classification scheme written for films, to books, in a nation where marijuana is illegal.

Which is why I end up taking a book on which my opinion was 'meh' and evaluating it as "technically too racy to be sold in Australia".

aesmael: (haircut)

Usagi Yojimbo Book 3: The Wanderer's Road: Epilogue: Turtle Soup and Rabbit Stew by Stan Sakai

Originally published 1987 in Turtle Soup; this edition August 2010

Fantagraphics Books

 

G

Suitable for all audiences

(V)

Some violence {G)

 

Representations

Gender:

Only male characters.

Sex:

No presence

Race & Ethnicity:

Characters are all anthropomorphic animals in a culturally Japanese (Edo period) setting. Or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

No presence noted.

Awards

None found

Notes

Just a brief and silly crossover story in which Usagi and Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles nearly fight each other. Continuity-free.

Highest rating for the book and thus overall rating: M.

aesmael: (haircut)

Usagi Yojimbo Book 3: The Wanderer's Road: 6. The Shogun's Gift by Stan Sakai

Originally published October 1988 Fantagraphics Books in Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 1 Issue 12; this edition August 2010

Fantagraphics Books

 

PG

Parental Guidance recommended for audiences under 15 years of age

(V)

Some violence {PG)

 

Representations

Gender:

The return of Tomoe as a prominent character, female samurai from a multi-part plot in the first book. Women in background shots around town, a married couple woodcutter team.

Sex:

A pair of woodcutters are husband and wife.

Race & Ethnicity:

Characters are all anthropomorphic animals in a culturally Japanese (Edo period) setting.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

No presence noted.

Awards

None found

Notes

Villainous plot thwarted by good fortune of the heroes compounded by cunning. Feels almost as if it were two separate stories on the same events, with how the two main good characters - Usagi and Tomoe - only meet briefly and once. Setting up for future events, feels like. Or maybe just the on-going feud between Lords Hikiji and Noriyuki.

aesmael: (haircut)

Usagi Yojimbo Book 3: The Wanderer's Road: 5. The Tea Cup by Stan Sakai

Originally published September 1987?* Fantagraphics Books in Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 1 Issue 11; this edition August 2010

Fantagraphics Books 

{*I think the 1987 on these two issues is an error. it goes back to 1988 for the next issue}

PG

Parental Guidance recommended for audiences under 15 years of age

(V, D, T)

Violence {G)

Drug Use (PG) {Tea! Also sake}

Themes (G) {Poverty}

 

Representations

Gender:

There is a girl child in this episode with a small speaking role, and reference made to a female samurai from a plot arc in the first book. Women in the background in town, and an innkeeper's wife is referred to.

Sex:

A heterosexual marriage referred to.

Race & Ethnicity:

Characters are all anthropomorphic animals in a culturally Japanese (Edo period) setting.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

No presence noted.

Awards

None found 

Notes

Usagi meets up with bounty hunter and friend-of-sorts Gen, who showed up in two stories in the first book. Recurring theme of Gen being on a mission, soliciting Usagi's assistance, but then also tricking him about the precise nature of that assistance. The pattern concludes with the two sharing food and sake at an inn; in the first case Gen sticks Usagi with the bill, in the second Usagi turns the tables, and this time they simultaneously leave each other with the bill. So presumably that pattern is ended if they meet up again.

We also get to learn a bit of Gen's backstory, which seems to involve some tragic poverty, but overall the story feels like a return to light-hearted action adventure.

P.S. Seems to be a tendency for catfolk to show up as villains or minions to villains.

aesmael: (haircut)

Usagi Yojimbo Book 3: The Wanderer's Road: 4. Blade of the Gods by Stan Sakai

Originally published July 1988?* Fantagraphics Books in Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 1 Issue 10; this edition August 2010

Fantagraphics Books

 

{*official website says July 1987, but that would be a year prior to the preceding issues, although if 1987 that would put it in the same month as the previous issue too.}

 

PG

Parental Guidance recommended for audiences under 15 years of age

(V, H)

Violence (PG)

Supernatural Themes (no weight)

 

Representations

Gender:

Only male characters present.

Sex:

No presence

Race & Ethnicity:

Characters are all anthropomorphic animals in a culturally Japanese (Edo period) setting.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

Villain of this episode regarded as mad by others.

Awards

None found

Notes

Usagi seeks shelter from a storm with Jei, who turns out to believe he is chosen by the gods to execute the evil - and who seems to conclude sooner or later that all who cross his path are evil. The resolution is ambiguous. Mostly a fight episode but I believe there are to be long-term repercussions; it is left uncertain whether Jei is indeed supernaturally guided or protected.

aesmael: (haircut)

Usagi Yojimbo Book 3: The Wanderer's Road: 3. Return of the Blind Swordspig by Stan Sakai

Originally published July 1988 Fantagraphics Books in Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 1 Issue 9; this edition August 2010

Fantagraphics Books

 

PG

Parental Guidance recommended for audiences under 15 years of age

(V, D)

Violence {PG)

Drug Use (G) {Tea}

 

Representations

Gender:

Only male characters, and a tokagé (Spot) of unknown gender.

Sex:

No presence.

Race & Ethnicity:

Characters are all anthropomorphic animals in a culturally Japanese (Edo period) setting.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

Zato-Ino is blind, but has developed a disability superpower in his sense of smell to compensate. He even has an entry on TVTropes' Blind Weapon Master page. Also thanks to his previous encounter with Usagi, his preternatural sense of smell is provided by a wooden prosthetic nose. 

Awards

None found 

Notes

This one is a bit more continuity-heavy than the previous two, referencing not only Spot's origin story in The Tower, but also featuring the reappearance of Zato-Ino and his one-sided grudge against Usagi. Fortunately I read his first appearance in Book 1, but there is a small recap in this story for those that don't know it. 

Found this story a bit sad, both through Zato-Ino's lonely-surly characterisation and insistence on hostility toward Usagi, and because this is the last story in which Usagi and Spot journey together.

Zato-Ino is almost certainly based on that other blind masseuse swordsman character, Zatoichi.

aesmael: (haircut)

Usagi Yojimbo Book 3: The Wanderer's Road: 2. A Mother's Love by Stan Sakai

Originally published May 1988 Fantagraphics Books in Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 1 Issue 8; this edition August 2010

Fantagraphics Books

 

M

Not recommended for persons under 15 years of age, but no legal restrictions

(V, T, D)

Violence {M)

Themes (M) {Corruption; Domestic Violence, Murder}

Drug Use (G) {Tea}

Representations

Gender:

Major guest character is an old woman; story focuses on relationship between her and her son.

Sex:

Heterosexual marriage-relationships / descent indicated, only.

Race & Ethnicity:

Characters are all anthropomorphic animals in a culturally Japanese (Edo period) setting.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

Infirmity due to age. 

Awards

None found

Notes

This was... a lot darker than the previous story. Our itinerant protagonist (along with Spot) gets caught up in an intrigue of corruption that ends with kinslaying and a character begging to be executed.

aesmael: (haircut)
Usagi Yojimbo Book 3: The Wanderer's Road: 1. The Tower by Stan Sakai

Originally published March 1988 Fantagraphics Books in Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 1 Issue 7; this edition August 2010

Fantagraphics Books

G

Suitable for all audiences

(V, D)

Some violence (G)

Drug Use (G) {an attempt to drink some tea}

Representations

Gender:

Only male characters with speaking roles. Think I saw some women in the crowd.

Sex:

No presence

Race & Ethnicity:

Characters are all anthropomorphic animals in a culturally Japanese (Edo period) setting.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

No presence noted.

Awards

None found

Notes

In this episode, our ronin rabbit hero, Miyamoto Usagi rescues a hungry tokagé that is being bullied by an unnamed restaurant owner for stealing food. According to the author's notes, tokagé is a Japanese word for lizard; they seem to be little dog-sized sauropods that are the main non-person animals I've seen in this setting so far.

Even though this is mainly marked and regarded as a children's series, I have been finding them fun and quick enough to want to keep reading what volumes I can source from libraries. I read the first collection a few months ago, and was unable to get hold of Book 2, so this Book 3 is the second one I have been able to read.

In this particular story it seems the restaurant owner's lack of charity and growing anger at being thwarted that bring his misfortune upon himself. At the end Usagi leaves in the company of the tokagé he has named Spot, and I rather liked the idea of him travelling with a trusty animal companion henceforth.

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

Excel Saga Volume 1, Mission 6: The Untreatable Unbeknownst Disease by Rikdo Koshi

Originally published 1997 by Shonengahosha Co.. Ltd; this edition July 2003, September 2003 printing

Publisher: Viz

 

PG

(D, V, L)

Drug References {G}

Cartoon Violence {G} {Excel being dropped down the trap-door again}

Coarse Language {PG} {nothing stronger than 'bastard'}

 

Representations

Gender:

Excel and Hyatt continue to talk to each other. Male characters balanced out with Sumiyoshi and Watanabe and, of course, Il Palazzo.

Sex:

No role in this piece

Race & Ethnicity:

As per usual, an all-Japanese affair.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

Plot revolves around Hyatt and Watanabe each being sick and bedridden. By this point, Excel is making jokes about Hyatt's close relationship with death.

 

Notes

Felt like the series is getting its feet here. Maybe because this is the first chapter without any character introductions, so we can focus on the humour: Hyatt, whose existence is as precarious as ever, Il Palazzo's capricious callousness, Excel's insecurity about her favour with Il Palazzo, and suspicion of everything outside ACROSS, plus Watanabe's suffering under Sumiyoshi's folk remedies. Plus, Excel breaking the fourth wall a bit "let's see... I twirled twice about the tobacconist at Second... after having the flashback, I spun thrice more for joy upon the pedestrian bridge..." while trying to remember where she might have dropped some money - said flashback being where we learned she even had the money.

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

Excel Saga Volume 1, Mission 5: Those That Burn, Those That Get Burned by Rikdo Koshi

Originally published 1997 by Shonengahosha Co.. Ltd; this edition July 2003, September 2003 printing

Publisher: Viz

 

PG

(V, L)

Cartoon Violence {G} {Excel is repeatedly dropped into the pit by Il Palazzo (on the second occasion, being attacked(?) by cave crickets).}

Coarse Language {PG} {A pun; a couple of 'sad bastards' exchanged in argument between Sumiyoshi and Iwata}

 

Representations

Gender:

Bechdel pass, with Excel and Hyatt discussing their looting of the neighbourhood trash and the subsequent fire.

Sex:

Watanabe's ongoing infatuation with Hyatt, leading him to abandon his own salvage to her. Hyatt appears to remain oblivious to his interest.

Race & Ethnicity:

Sumiyoshi speaks with an accent from the Okayama area (and without speech bubbles) (rendered in translation with a northern England accent).

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

Nothing particular.

 

Notes

Title page features Excel in a parody Nazi uniform, with a blushing romantic expression, kicking the Earth behind her. Just so we're under no illusions here.

Excel accidentally starts a fire, which she and Hyatt then exacerbate through their cluelessness. I didn't quite feel right flagging this as violence, since it is accidental (although Excel claims it was arson directed at them) and no one was hurt.

Felt like a short episode, serving to introduce Sumiyoshi; mainly we learn that he is a bit technically savvier than Watanabe, and maybe poorer.

aesmael: (haircut)

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

Excel Saga Volume 1, Mission 4: Everyday Living Permissible by Rikdo Koshi

Originally published 1997 by Shonengahosha Co.. Ltd, Tokyo; this edition July 2003, September 2003 printing

Publisher: Viz 

 

M

(L, V, D)

Coarse Language (PG)

Violence (M) {This time Watanabe is doing the off-screen beating up of Iwata, although Iwata gets his revenge}

Drug Use (M) {Once again Hyatt getting buzzed from an assortment of pills}

 

Representations

Gender:

I think this is the first story in Excel Saga to actually pass the Bechdel Test, as Excel and Hyatt are finally in the same place and talking to each other. Gender representation is split about 50/50 in this one.

Sex:

Watanabe gives Hyatt some of his excess stuff, possibly because of his interest in her.

Race & Ethnicity:

Back to an all-Japanese affair.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

We also find out Hyatt's eyesight is quite bad.

 

Notes

Almost a single-room story. Excel and Hyatt spend the entire time in the flat they now share. The rest is Watanabe and Iwata's interactions in two adjacent flats and just outside. I suppose it is a further characterisation sort of episode.

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

Excel Saga Volume 1, Mission 3: Today and Tomorrow for Encounters by Rikdo Koshi

Originally published 1997 by Shonengahosha Co.. Ltd, Tokyo; this edition July 2003, September 2003 printing

Publisher: Viz 

 

MA15+

(D, V, L, S, H)

Drug Use (MA15+) {anything lower is "drug use should be justified by context". in this case Hyatt was apparently dead for three hours, revived, and injected herself with something that gave her such a rush she lay on the floor twitching for a while afterward. she is also seen later getting buzzed on a large supply of various pills. if this falls within the realm of 'justified by context' then I accuse that term of vacuity in the context of these ratings. really I think this category is made less interesting by the lack of nuance available, even after I have tried adding some. on the other hand, if I am keeping the rating for violence a bit lower than otherwise it would be because it is played for comedy and no persistent injuries are sustained...}

Violence (M) {Excel sets off some explosions and uses the other prisoners in the immigrant detention centre as sacrificial decoys. the guards say things like "Fire at will" and joke about breaking restrictions on the degree of force they are permitted to use, but the actual violence happens off-screen. Excel is attacked by Shinto archers after stealing their horse. Iwata beats up Watanabe off-screen again.}

Coarse Language (PG) {just the occasional 'bastard' and 'hell'}

Sexual References (G) {Watanabe's infatuation with Hyatt begins, implied by the panel focusing on her chest from his gaze, which casts his friendly actions toward her.}

Supernatural References (-) {Watanabe, believing he is being haunted, spends the night chanting the lotus sutra in an effort to fix this}

 

Representations

Gender:

About even on number of people with lines. Perspective follows the two main women, Excel and Hyatt, but they don't much interact.

Sex:

Only heterosexual interests present.

Race & Ethnicity:

Once again, everyone Japanese except the sacrificial immigrants.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

Hyatt's bizarrely fragile, intermittent health and tendency to cough up blood may count, but her condition is a matter of comedic invention and not reflective, I am fairly sure, of any actual condition.

 

Notes

May as well dispense with awards after not finding any the first time. This chapter introduces Hyatt, so maybe Il Palazzo can stop promoting inanimate objects over Excel now.

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

Batman's Helpers by Lawrence Block

Originally published 1990 in Playboy, this edition 1995

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Collected in: Hard-Boiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories (ed. Bill Pronzini & Jack Adrian)

 

MA15+

Considered unsuitable for persons under 15 years of age; legally restricted

(L, D, S)

Coarse Language {MA15+}

Drug Use / References {PG} {alcohol}

 

Representations

Gender:

A single mention of a black woman as receptionist is all the presence of women in this story, alongside a character claiming he knows a woman who'll like a purse he stole.

Sex:

Implicit 'people will think you're gay' joke, came across as more banter than malice, but the same character later says he thought of Batman and Robin as 'fags' and speaks derisively of S&M.

Race & Ethnicity:

Main characters all white (unmarked). First character we see is a black woman in an incidental role as receptionist. Content of story mainly features confiscating unlicensed Batman merchandise from Senegalese, Pakistani and other mostly PoC street vendors. Two characters refers to black people by a slur.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

No mention

 

Awards

None found.

 

Notes

Here's one with no murder, in fact with only the threat of violence at a couple of points. Superficially light piece with darker undertones about copyright enforcement on the streets of New York. Apparently this story features one of his major series characters (who turns out not to have the heart for this work), which I did not realise the first time around.

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

Gravy Train by James Ellroy

Originally published 1990 in The Armchair Detective, this edition 1995

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Collected in: Hard-Boiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories (ed. Bill Pronzini & Jack Adrian)

 

MA15+

Considered unsuitable for persons under 15 years of age; legally restricted

(L, S, D, V, N)

Coarse Language {M} {slurs}

A Sex Scene {M}

Drug References {M}

Violence {MA15+}

Nudity {M}

 

Representations

Gender:

First-person male narration. Female characters evaluated in context of their attractiveness to him.

Sex:

Narrator responding to women primarily through the lens of his attraction to them. One character is a lesbian; another character fakes attraction to con her.

Race & Ethnicity:

Narrator casually introduces the people he supervises via a list of anglophone racial slurs (no names). Also uses some Yiddish racial slurs. In fact, ethnicity entirely marked by slurs and slang terms, including the narrator's marking himself as Jewish.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

No mention.

 

Awards

None found.

 

Notes

Despite what the rating may suggest, this story was a lot of fun (one source found while writing this described it as a spoof of hard-boiled fiction from the '40s and '50s, which seems apt). Probably give his books a shot on my reading tour.

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