I barely had any time to check out the city, but the limited wandering I did took me into a couple of used bookstores. When I was in Mexico City, I found heaps and heaps of Spanish pulps and reprints of classic hardboiled paperbacks but in Germany there were hardly any at all. Just a scant handful of Parker reprints and a few Chandler hardbacks.
It took me several days to wrap my brain around this fact, but apparently in Germany hardboiled pulp (vintage or modern) is basically considered lowbrow trash on the level of supermarket romance. I had several interviewers ask me about how it feels not to be taken seriously, and I honestly didn’t get what they meant at first. After all, hardboiled and noir fiction is taken very seriously in the US. It’s more the cozy or chick-lit writers who get no respect. But the Germans have this idea that crime fiction ought to be much more literary and “serious.” Apparently this means no explicit sex or violence, just lots of depressed, angst-ridden (male, of course) detectives brooding and contemplating the meaning of life. In fact, there was a scathing write-up in the local paper about my reading in Leipzig (published before the reading even took place.) The author was complaining that it was stupid and pointless to feature a trashy hardboiled writer at a venue meant for more serious literary fiction. I really had a blast blowing everyone’s expectations out of the water. I may be a trashy pulp writer, but I have no problem talking about the underlying gender issues and other socially relevant “serious” themes in Money Shot. I hope I did my part as a hardboiled missionary in a land of unbelievers. I’ll bet I opened up a mind or two.
My reading in Frankfurt was at the gorgeous underground Venusberg Bar. Great space and great people. I was thrilled to have my peeps from Jenny Brown Associates in attendance, including the tiny-arsed Kevin Pocklington and Dame Jenny herself but minus my actual agent Al Guthrie. The world’s toughest vegetarian was off teaching some literary wilderness survival workshop out in the sticks somewhere and was sorely missed.
All in all, it was a blast and started off my German tour with a bang.