Masculine Literature

August 1st, 2008

Not many people read books for entertainment anymore. There may have been a slight uptick when Harry Potter was still new, but most books sold now are textbooks, self-help and business books.

For all of those who haven’t picked up a book for pleasure, I understand completely. The number of different forms of entertainment available, not to mention the sheer quantity just waiting to be consumed – is staggering and nearly impossible to comprehend. With movies, engrossing television shows, fistfuls of music recordings, video games, phones with games, the web, online forums, and any number of hobbies now available thanks to the wealth of most Americans – who’d want to use their imagination to bring mere words to life?

But for those of us who do read novels, short stories, plays, poems, and the like for enjoyment – we’re a hard lot to sell books to. It’s because we’re also sharing our time with other entertainment, in addition to living our lives. What’s a publisher to do?

What seems to have happened, I think, is that publishers are picking books for publications that will be read by the largest reading demographic group. And the largest group…is women. Most new books appear to b geared toward woman.

Equality, feminism, sexism, and all that aside; most women tend to like stories in a certain way that don’t normally ring with men*. I wish I could put what makes these stories different, just that I can sense it. They don’t affect me the way that stories normally written by men affect me. And it seems to be true with other men.

I first noticed it when I started reading more science fiction by female writers. They just…didn’t give the details that I was used to reading and wanted to know about. It reminds me of when I was young and was at my uncle’s house; her daughter (the only girl cousin I have, out of 6 on both sides) had a toy Volkswagen Beetle. And as my brothers and I were playing with her, each one of us went to the toy car and tried to open the hood, but it wouldn’t move. The hood was not made to be opened. Because it was a pink Barbie Beetle. Girls who would want to open the hood of a toy car don’t play with pink Barbie Beetles.

But this isn’t about the differences of the sexes, I’m talking about literature. There is something I call Masculine Literature. It’s literature with a masculine bent. It’s nearly impossible to describe, but I know it exists. It doesn’t matter if the main characters are male or female, it’s something deeper. Unfortunately, hardly any new fiction is masculine. It’s feminine. And I just can’t wrap my mind around feminine literature most of the time. So I’m stuck reading old stories, because I can’t find any new masculine fiction.

Off the top of my head, here are examples of masculine literature: Invisible Man, Ham on Rye, Madame Bovary, A Season In Hell, “The Waste Land”, Ulysses, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom, White Teeth, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Fuck Up, and Vanity Fair.

*I’m only talking about Western Civilization, specifically in America; so your mileage may vary.

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