the New Hard-Boiled Woman

RECENTLY I TOOK A GROUP of 16 college students, half women and half men, to Paris for the summer, to teach a course on French literature of the modern city. I wanted my students to become flâneurs in the tradition of Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin. “Wander through the city,” I said. “Read your novel in the neighborhood where it was set, keep notes on the novel and on the place where you read it. Have adventures.”

I had forgotten one thing: wandering is not an equal-opportunity activity. In my group, the women who wandered were constantly hassled, provoked, even accosted. We began practicing what they should say back, how to be disinterested and angry at the same time—how to give lip, in other words.

We should have been reading Sara Paretsky.

The right of women to wander through the city, which Paretsky claims for her hard-boiled detective, V.I. Warshawski, was the subject of musings

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