Friday, August 14, 2009

Women's Fiction

In these sometimes tense times of gender equality I feel I can be pretty direct. What is women's fiction; is it solely for women? Is the name strictly a ‘buyers beware’ to any man’s hand that may have strayed so far as to pick up the book and turn it over? I still stand on my feeling that good writing is good writing and a change of genre or perceived audience will not affect the quality of the words on the page. However, the previous statement being true, why would anyone trying to sell books limit the potential readership with such an explicit genre appellation?

This issue of women's fiction has been bothering me for quite some time. It is the only fiction genre designation that I know of that is not only branded by the publisher but done so in general accordance with the author. Many a non general ‘fiction’ author would love their books to be sold with the mass market epithet “A Novel” coming after the title as opposed to being put on the fantasy or mystery shelf. I know a few authors (none of whom I”ll call out) who recently lead a panel discussion at a writers club meeting that covered many things. When the topic of women's fiction came about I found myself growing irritable with the pregnancy of woeful ignorance; either in myself or the panel.

Is there such a thing as men’s fiction? I’ll wage a legitimate answer that there is, and I can’t over stress the seriousness of my attempt. After you’ve read it with with earnest consideration (and a more open-minded than it’s worth) then, tell me how absurd it is.

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Men’s literature (or Men! Books! Read! as the marketing branch of the publishing world would have us call it) is always an energetic story with excess testosterone and alpha males doing terribly interesting things in most Michael-Bay-type of manner. Female leads are absurd given the genre and any female characters are bound to be helpless idiots and at all times displaying generous amounts of cleavage. Rarely amusing or light hearted these stories resemble the steaks me like to eat: bloody, gritty with little seasoning and no time for side items like vegetables. Men’s fiction is about men’s issues for a male readership; women would have a very hard time identifying with the subject matter of family, relationships and blowing stuff up. While the subject matter often crosses genres it always has commercial appeal and the characters are often attempting to overcome both a personal and external adversity.

Although men’s fiction often incorporates grave situations such as poverty, divorce, abuse, and host of other social struggles, it can also explore positive aspects within a mans life: such as guns, swords, sports, sex, gluttony and video games. Sanguine soaked fantasy and sci-fi are an integral part of Men’s fiction although the content is mature enough and well-developed that it sets itself apart from other genre classifications. Generally speaking, Men’s fiction often delves into deeper, more serious conflicts and utilizes a more poetic literary writing style than standard fiction that would be deemed appropriate of both genders.

Chad Hull the prolific author of numerous bestsellers of Men’s fiction including: The Man Book, Why Elves and Fairies are Gay, Go F*** yourself, and Tit Hooker is the ideal author of Men’s Fiction. His forthcoming novel detailing the heartbreak of a car--lovingly restored for five tender years before being totaled in a horrific accident involving no insurance and a culprit that couldn’t speak English--Steel Dump is due out this winter.

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So… seriously. What is women’s fiction? Are those the books Nicolas Sparks writes? Is Anna Karenina the archetype of the genre? Is there such a thing as Men’s fiction? If so, what is it? If not, why?

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