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The Role of That Woman in “Farewell, Something Lovely”

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I was reading over my story “Farewell, Something Lovely,” a short story based on the Raymond Chandler novel Farewell, My Lovely. What struck me was the role of the female character who motivates the story – my version of Velma Valento. While she does nothing wrong, she seems to bring out the worst in a lot of men. They do some very bad things in order to “possess” her, and some of them do act like she is a possession. This goes on through most of the story, and only at the resolution is there any real indication of her wants or desires.

I’m worried this is going to come off as sexist, that I’m blaming the woman. The thing is, she asks for none of this. It is not that she has no agency, it is just that she chooses men for reasons other than what they expect, and those reasons are opaque, perhaps even at the conclusion.

I’m still running with it. It has been submitted, and if it gets rejected, I’ll submit it elsewhere. I believe the story strong (not known for my humility), though that female role is problematic (a word some may not like, but which I find useful).

It’s also interesting that the main character is never named nor has a gender indicated. Almost every reader I’ve communicated with still refers to the character as “he.” Might be interesting if among the reveals in the story is that she is a woman. Might come off as faux reveal, done only either to shock or to shift attention.

Another short story I started does have a female protagonist who is a butcher of the commercial variety who gets tagged to become a butcher of another variety. I’m having no problem with the voice, but parts of the plot aren’t working for me. This one is heavily influenced by the Korean neo-noir The Yellow Sea.

You can read more about Farewell, My Lovely at Wikipedia.

You can read my thoughts on The Yellow Sea here.