I greatly admire writers who seem to effortlessly create fully-developed characters of the opposite sex. Stephen King comes to mind with "Carrie," "Dolores Claiborne," "Misery," and many others.
(And you thought I was gonna say Leo Tolstoy and "Anna Karenina." I might have, except there's never been a more fraudulent line in fiction than: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.")
Anyway, back to my thesis. It's damn hard to write realistic characters of the opposite sex. Which brings me to my favorite television drama, Showtime's "Ray Donovan."
On the surface, it's about a "fixer" (a troubled Liev Schreiber) for an L.A. law firm who cleans up celebrities' problems by various illegal means, including wiretapping, extortion, and torture. But what the show is really about is a father's relationship with his four sons. And the show's creator/executive producer/chief writer/showrunner is a woman: Ann Biderman.
Now, Ms. Biderman has some experience writing tough guys. She created "Southland" and wrote for "NYPD Blue." But "Ray Donovan" is a special case, and I'm blown away by Ms. Biderman's ability to create such a complex cast of conflicted, totally real male characters.
(Now, I hope my pals Patty Smiley, Jackie Winspear and Cornelia Read don't think I'm being misogynistic. Same for Jim Born, well known for his feminine side when he's not handcuffing suspects or bashing them with his truncheon).
I mean all of this as a great compliment to Ms. Biderman. I'm not the Jack Nicholson character in "As Good As It Gets." Do you remember the fawning receptionist who asks: "How do you write women so well?" And the dyspeptic author replies: "I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability."
Anyway, the linchpin of the show is Ray Donovan's father Mickey, played chillingly by the underappreciated Jon Voight.
Mickey is a low-life Irish-American gangster who just did 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. His relationships with each son is different and complex, and he's perhaps the most interesting character on television today. (And here I include all the "Real Housewives of New Jersey"). Mickey can be cruel and thoughtless, but he has a sentimental streak that is not contrived or saccharine.
In sum, I am in awe of the writing...and the portrayal by Voight.
(It took me nine novels until I wrote what I considered was a fully developed female character: Victoria Lord in "Solomon vs. Lord"). Tolstoy, I'm not.)
So, let me ask: Do you have any favorite authors who are really adept at creating characters of the opposite sex?
Three weeks from today is the official publication date of "State vs. Lassiter," the tenth and possibly last of my series featuring the linebacker-turned-lawyer. Why possibly the last? Well, Jake Lassiter is in a jam...charged with first degree murder.Facebook Author Page. And then, on your honor, please post a review -- good or bad -- on the book's Amazon page. You can leave me a message on the Facebook Author Page with your email address and specify if you want a regular .pdf copy or a Kindle copy or an epub version.