Thursday, November 21, 2013

Real men read

Stephen King on the topic of "manfiction":

"If you catch publishing types in a ''don't quote me'' mood, they'll tell you the male audience for fiction is disappearing. Agents and editors are constantly on the lookout for the next hot female writer, and why not? At the end of August, 7 of the 10 New York Times hardcover fiction bestsellers were by women, and that doesn't even include Stephenie Meyer's mega-selling Breaking Dawn (which the Times considers kid lit, thus not meriting a place on the adult list). 

But, to misquote Mark Twain, reports of the male reader's death have been greatly exaggerated. Women have chick lit; guys have what my son Joe (as in Joe Hill) calls ''manfiction.'' And publishers sell it by the ton. Here's a concept so simple it's easy to miss: What men want from an Elmore Leonard novel is exactly what women want from a Nora Roberts novel — escape and entertainment." 
Some readers will of course object to the very idea that there is "men's fiction" and "women's fiction". Oh, the sexism of it all! 

We all know, though, that very few men read Danielle Steel, and very few women read Clive Cussler. (However, it is probably accurate to say that Cussler has more female readers than Steel has male readers--women being more avid readers in general.)

Just because these categories exist, though, doesn't mean that every fictional work has to be shunted into a "gender-specific" category, and labeled either a "boy book" or a "girl book".

The vast majority of fiction has cross-gender appeal. And while manfiction and chicklit both have their places, the best books can be enjoyed equally by either sex.