Redheaded Neanderlady

Redheaded Neanderlady
This is a photoshopped version of something I found in National Geographic about the time I started researching

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Intelligent and unintelligent thrillers, Part I


I've been a bit slow this month, for a variety of reasons. But today, I'm introducing a series in several parts, which will include reviews of what I call "intelligent", v. "unintelligent" thrillers. But first, I have to define what I mean by both types.

First of all, the "thriller" genre is almost always, though I believe there are a few exceptions, written by and for men. Which doesn't mean women don't read them, often with great pleasure, as happened to be the case with the last two thrillers I read. One was "intelligent", and the other was "unintelligent". I'll get more into this below.

Generally, these thrillers involve a lot of mayhem and chases, over vast portions of the globe, to uncover some apparently accidentally discovered secrets. They often string together several apparently unrelated pieces of information strung together so that at the end, it is more or less "satisfyingly" resolved in some way. The "thriller" genre covers a wide range: everything from the works of Dan Brown, to the works of John LeCarre, and everything in between. The LeCarre books are definitely "intelligent", but Dan Brown is considered, for a lot of reasons, equally definitely "unintelligent"

To get further into the definitions of "unintelligent" v."intelligent" thrillers, we need to look a little farther into it. "Unintelligent" thrillers, while often a lot of fun to read, try to stretch suspension of disbelief to incredibly thin lengths, though the writers of these things are often very good at what they do. Which tends to make them fun to read, but essentially, not very plausible. If you read some thrillers that have supposedly "historical" roots(usually centering around some ancient "prophetic" scroll or something like that, and often involving the Vatican(or some other religious body that believes the ancient texts will overturn everything they understand about their religious faith, and there's always someone from \whatever religious body it is, trying to prevent the hero(they are always men) from getting to the "secret". If you know anything about the real circumstances, then the premises often become , well, pretty implsudinlr, yo dsy yhr lrsdy. Duvh yhtillrtd trly hrsbily on loyd og yhr z'lsyrdyz'. often military type technology, to lend some plausibility to the way they go about their thrilling adventures. Then, too, these heroes often have a military background of some sort.

"Intelligent" thrillers, by contrast, don't rely so heavily on gadgetry, especially "military-type" gadgetry to make their stories seem plausible. They rely less on "gimmicks", too, so the disparate elements eventually to be much more plausible. Also, the heroes are often not military types; they tend to have families, or end up with one, which makes for much sweeter endings, and that overused word "closure". This closure, as in a ll genre fiction, has to be reasonably plausible, but it can't seem forced, which it may in "unintelligent" thrillers. They also tend to be somewhat better written than the "unintelligent" ones, and often, but again not always, the writers of the "unintelligent" ones are British.Some readers of thrillers, however, shy away from these action-oriented, but plausible thrillers, for the "whiz-bangy" "unintelligent" ones. The readers may know they are completely preposterous(and I've talked to some who apparently do), but what they're really after is the action, often just want that. But then, these "unintelligent" thrillers are pretty much archetypal 'guy books" anyway. Be this as it may, we now have a working definition of an "intelligent" v. an "unintelligent" thriller, and I will be expanding on this in the next parts.

There is more to come,
Anne G

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