Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Some Things I'd Like to Talk About (mostly book related)

There are some things I'd like to talk about.

The first is James Patterson. I've read all the Women's Murder Club books. I really liked the start to the series but the last several books have just not been that good. More than anything, it's the writing style. (the mysteries are ok) The writing is just really distracting. Now, it's easy to note that all James Patterson's books are written with a co-author. So I'm wondering...does that person do all the writing? Does he do the plotting and they do the writing? Because that's the only thing that makes sense to me. It would also explain the change in writing style in the last three books which I haven't liked that much.

Secondly, I'd like to highlight this bit out of Megan Crane and Liza Palmer's recent conversation promoting Megan's sensational new book, Names My Sisters Call Me.

And I said it before, but it bears repeating: these books are sneered at and trivialized because they are about women. I don't recall any sneering or rolled eyes when I was handed the fifty-seventh "young man reflects on the tragedies of war" tome in high school. Why? Because stories about young men and their explorations of self and their worlds and their relationships with other men are considered inherently valuable. Men are interesting. Men are worthwhile subjects for fiction. Write about young men and their worlds and you will be feted and congratulated and called a "wunderkind," and no one will call what you write anything but literary. How is a Brett Easton Ellis book any different from, say, a Lauren Weisberger or a Candace Bushnell novel: glossy worlds, jaded protagonists, and all? The only difference is this: books by and about women are perceived, as women are still perceived, to be less than similar books by men. I've been reading about the chick lit controversy for years now, and despite all the hithering and yonning about what's good literature and what's not and elitist snobbery this and commercial crap that and blah blah blah, I think it all boils down to sexism in action, plain and simple. We do not yet live in a world of gender equality, and I think this endless argument proves that. Again and again.
(read the rest here)

Agree or disagree? I think she makes a very valid point and it's totally interesting to me and I'd love to talk about it if anyone is game.

And lastly, who is going to get the boot on Idol tonight? I think Carly or Brooke.


Dewey said...

Oh my god, thank you SO much for making that young man reflects upon war remark. I swear I was assigned Catch 22 FIVE TIMES in college. FIVE TIMES. Always by male teachers. I mean, I realize war is a tragic, devastating thing and we should read books about it. And I realize that Catch-22 is a good book. But please! Some variety!

I also agree with you that books about/by women are often trivialized. In fact, in this book I just finished, Plato and Platypus Walk Into a Bar, they have a joke timeline of the history of philosophy in the back. And for every female writer/philosopher, they have the event listed as "dismissed as chick lit." Mary Shelley is dismissed as chick lit, Simone de Beauvoir is dismissed as "litterature des chicks" and so on. And it's so true. I mean, there is some garbage written about ditzy women whose main interest is buying shoes. But when garbage is written by men, we don't sneer at it and call it boy lit. Sometimes we give it the damn Pulitzer.

Anonymous said...

I must admit this is a great topic to post on. If I've ever thought about it, I don't remember! and that means that I will have to really think more before I have anything to offer. But, for counterpoint, does anyone have any boylit to recommend? I read Catch22 on my own. in high school, so I could understand what the heck a Catch 22 was!

Anonymous said...

But... as I sit and consider what male authors I read in HS. I have always disliked Jack London.

Jen said...

It is hard for me to offer up my opinion on this because I havent't yet read the authors mentioned in the example. That said, I do think there is a difference between so called "chick-lit" and more substantial novels by women authors. Chick-lit is enjoyable fluff(that I will indulge in from time to time because it is a fun escape from life) but it can hardly be compared to a really well-written novel whose story and characters stay with you long after you've finished reading it. Many of the books I'm referring to were written by women. Sue Monk Kidd, Jodi Picoult, Jane Austin, Barbara Kingsolver are just a few authors that come to mind that don't just write about shoe obsessions (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Amy said...

bkclubcare...I actually liked Jack London...but I can't think of any female authors that were required reading! Or poets for that matter. I read Jane Eyre as part of an optional project. Oh I just remembered one...Willa Cather's My Antonia.

I don't think all that is considered chick lit can be dismissed either--in particular the two authors who had this conversation. Liza Palmer's Seeing Me Naked and Megan Crane's Names my Sisters Call Me might be classified as chick lit but they have nothing to do with shoes!!!! I loved both of them a great deal and they both have a permanent place in my book collection.

Jen, I've only read one Jodi Picoult book..The Pact. It definitely consumed my thoughts, but I didn't actually like any of the characters. The whole thing was just so disturbing that I couldn't decide if I actually liked the book. Well-written, thought provoking, but likeable? Having said that, I absolutely want to read more of her books, as soon as I find the time. :)

The only book by Candace Bushnell I 've read is Lipstick Jungle and I actually thought it was pretty good. Definitely a book for women about the hardship of being a woman competing in a man's world...probably not the next Jane Austen but nonetheless enjoyable with a sharp social insight.

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