5/25/15

Female Authors . . .

There are dozens of forms of sexism that are more and less acceptable than others. There is the man-rushing-to-hold-a-door-for-a-woman-who-doesn't-wish-to-have-the-door-held-open-for-her form and then there is the man-rushing-to-get-in-the-way-of-a-woman-getting-equal-pay form. I could argue that one is more harmful than the other but that is not (as a white, middle-aged, middle-class, white male) my place. It is sexism for me to presume that I have a useful opinion on this issue (you've read my Gran Torino rant, right?).

Instead I'll admit, here, that I'm guilty of a form of sexism that may not even be recognized on the door-hold/career-hold-back scale . . . I'm a literature sexist. I can honestly tell you in the 34 (or so) years I've been literate and the probably 1,000 books I've read in those years I've read MAYBE thirty books by female authors. And I didn't even like all of them.

I know, I know . . . I should be (and AM) ashamed. Here are the books by women I can remember reading and enjoying off the top of my head (I'm sure there are more):

  1. Ann Packer's "The Dive From Clausen's Pier". It really was magical in its momenty.
  2. ANYTHING Alice Munro has ever written (short stories vs. full-length books) with emphasis on "Hateship, Friendship, Courtsthip, Loveship, Marriage". She's truly terrific.
  3. Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird". Because to not like it is disrespectful.
  4. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen. Because, well, sexism. 
  5. "The Magic Treehouse" (Vol. 1 - 35 and counting) by Mary Pope Osborne (but those are mainly for my daughter's sake)
  6. Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged". I'm still, years on, in the process of reading it and I disagree with a good chunk of it but it is well written stuff - no doubt about that.
  7. Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway". TOUGH reading (her sentence structure is insane) but she writes her ass off.
  8. "A Wrinkle In Time" By Madeline L'Engle. Going OLD SCHOOL on you. 
I have a few ideas for why this "is" (note that they will all remove me from any personal responsibility) including theories on female authors having clearer paths to success (certainly there are millions of women out there who can and do write exceptionally well) in genres as categories that I don't appreciate as much or that are not "for" me like Young Adult literature (something that was almost non-existent when I was a "young adult") and children's books (those maternal instincts - yes, I'm aware this is sexism but it is a theory). I also think that, traditionally speaking, we (men and women) sort of appreciate similar perspectives to our own even in a world of fiction and hijinx. I could also, sadly, make the same clarification that I traditionally enjoy white, male authors. 

So here's what I'm doing . . . I'm going to start a 50% rule for my reading. Henceforth (and based on averages) 50% of the books I read will be written by women and/or minorities as a way to force me to discover the thousands and thousands of books that are, to date, unknown.

Any suggestions to get me going?