In light of the football season winding down (you will soon find me reading much more once there are no games to watch), I thought it might be fun to have a Super Bowl of sorts between what constitutes women's literature and what makes a book a "guy" book. Isn't it interesting that, while there is a genre called "women's literature," there is not genre titled "men's literature."
Certainly there are plenty of men out there that read literature. And there are, to be sure, books that are primarily aimed at a male audience. Are they never considered "literature?" Or is it a matter of women being just as likely to read what might qualify as "mens' literature" as a man whereas men rarely venture into the world of women's literature? I know a lot of women who have read a lot of Cormac McCarthy but no men who read Sophie Kinsella, for example.
Is it really a case of "men are from Mars, women are from Venus?" Do books which aim at our emotional core (such as Jodi Piccoult's do) appeal more to the more emotion-driven females and books which are more action driven (such as Robert Parker's) appeal more to the psyche of men?
I wanted to do a little research into this to see if I could some up with some answers to these questions. Guess what? No matter what search query I put in, I couldn't find a single article or site that explored this issue. Even when I tried to simply look for information on "writing for men" or "writing for women" I got nothing. Zip. Zilch. Is it even possible that no one has explored this?
Has it simply been a marketing thing? "Let's see. This book is full of action and has a lot of male characters. Therefore, we will market it to men. We will give it a dark cover and a tough name." Or "This book is focuses on relationships and it's very character driven. It must be for women so we will put pink on the cover and give it a gripping (or quirky) title." Surely that's not the case.
So what do you think? Is there any such a thing as "guy-lit?" Shawn Klomperan's "Two Years, No Rain" certainly struck me as "guy-lit" since it's protagonist was male and the book primarily focused on the relationships in his life. But I don't know very many guys to whom I would recommend the book. Is that being sexist? Is the assumption that guys are more likely to enjoy a sports book sexist? And why is it that even women, for whom "chick-lit" is clearly written, are often embarrassed to say that they read it and often won't read it in public?
This is starting to read like the book that was recently released that is composed entirely of questions. It's actually not what I imagined the post would be like when I started typing. But I find that I've got more questions than answers. Help!
Speaking of Robert Parker, both he and his fellow Cambridge, Massachusetts native son, Erich Segal (of Love Story fame) passed away this week. Segal has not written a best-seller since Love Story but Parker has continued to be successful and I know many people, my mom among them, are sad to know there will be no more adventures of Jesse Stone or Spenser (does this guy even have a first name?) and no more wonderful western tales.