A couple of conversations about women writers have sparked my interest, first this silly notion that people must read in some kind of quota system to prove their non sexism. What rubbish is this? I should state outright that I am a reading snob, much like I am a coffee snob. I have no intention of wading through things that don’t interest me in the name of political correctness.
I do tend to read men more than I read women and that is not sexism but rather a fondness for substance, style, and tone. Women can be awesome, amazing writers, and if they have some wit and intelligence, I will fall in love with their books, too. I read a lot of stuff written prior to 1920.
I was curious about what lurks behind my aversion to modern authors, especially women, but there are many men I have also hurled at the wall. It has to do with superficiality, emotional dishonesty, narratives, preaching, and romance.
I love romance, I love interpersonal relationships, but they can become a bit like gratuitous sex and violence in a Hollywood movie. They replace the story, they become a substitute for actually building a tale. I call these things biological bliss hits. She kisses some guy, “he loves me, he loves me not,” and there is this angst…but nothing more, no story, no song being sung. It is a bit like placing a car crash in an action, adventure movie. It compels me to ask, “and?” But there is no “and.” Some movies are simply made with little story to them, they are all about the crashes and things being blown up. That might work in a movie, but it doesn’t work so well in a novel, at least not for me. I need some adventure, a treasure hunt, mystery, some dragon slaying, architecture that has crafted a tale.
It’s somewhat sad to me, what is popular today, what is marketable, is not necessarily a well crafted tale, a song being sung, but rather a volume filled with those biological bliss hits I spoke of. So, the Twilight series, 50 Shades of Gray, both women writers who achieved great success but left me despairing for all of womankind.
I’ve written about this before, about the way I loved the old Nancy Drews as a child, before they were edited, cleaned up, presenting a narrative, a bit of social engineering. It is truth that I miss, emotional honesty, stories that speak from the soul. The soul is not always a place of romance, conquest, winning, but also of grief, rejection, loss and suffering. Futility, frustration. Sometimes it is in those darker places that we discover the truth about ourselves, that we learn what we are made of.