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Friday, July 17, 2015

Why men don't read

We already know that 90 percent of the genre imprints in the UK are run by women. I wonder what percentage of the editors responsible for "premier fiction debuts" are female? Here are the names of the writers Publishers Weekly has declared are Writers to Watch: Fall 2015: Anticipated Debuts:

Elisabeth Egan, Ruth Galm, Lauren Holmes, Naomi Jackson, Alexandra Kleeman, Julia Pierpont, Eka Kurniawan, Gabriel Urza, Christian Kracht

Of the three male authors, one is Indonesian (writing about Indonesia), one is Swiss (writing about a Teutonic explorer), and the only "American" man is a second-generation Spanish immigrant who wrote his debut novel about "a politically-charged act of violence that echoes through small Spanish town."

Now, these novels may be great. They may be forgettable. But just looking at the list is enough for the average American man to know that these are not books that are very likely to be of much relevance, or interest, to him. Do you know anyone who is anticipating any of these debuts? I certainly don't.

No wonder the bookstores are turning into potpourri-filled gift stores. Those that remain open, anyhow.

Labels:

89 Comments:

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer July 17, 2015 2:01 PM  

There is a Barnes and Noble near where I live that I like, they make a very good club sandwich. Free wifi too.

Anonymous Spooner July 17, 2015 2:06 PM  

I have crossed over to digital, even my 26 year old sons are shocked: Most recent reads:
1. Victoria: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PNU8XFG?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_d_detailpage_o01_

2.Lord of The World: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004IWQY6K?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_d_detailpage_o00_

3.Compost Everything: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PNU8XFG?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_d_detailpage_o01_

Anonymous MrGreenMan July 17, 2015 2:07 PM  

I remember making a woman sad the other day when I explained to her: Men just don't care what women have to say as a rule. All her examples were just exceptions that proved the rule.

It's never the truth. It's the dropping the pretense of the fantasy world. That's what hurts.

I just got a copy of a fictionalized account of the Siege of Malta. I mentioned it at the office. Somebody wants to borrow it...for her son to read. This book would never be on any reading list, , ever, except if GBFM launched a book club.

Anonymous FriarBob July 17, 2015 2:13 PM  

The B&N closest to me is probably only worth visiting for the Reubens they make. (Something to eat while you read the one decent Tor book of the last year or so.) Even the hot chocolate was crap last time I went... and IMO that's something you have to WORK to screw up...

Anonymous NorthernHamlet July 17, 2015 2:19 PM  

VD,

Which reminds me: how are you finding 100 years of solitude?

Anonymous Stickwick July 17, 2015 2:24 PM  

I can sympathize; I prefer male authors, because they tend to write about things I'm interested in.

Speaking of which, Vox, do you think it's wise for a female author not writing about chick stuff to publish under her first initials, e.g. S. B. Stapers? I notice a few women in sci-fi do this, and the ambiguity seems to work in their favor.

Blogger darkdoc July 17, 2015 2:24 PM  

I actually read a lot - at least 50 books a year. But I read only a rare women author (I think there a not a few women that use male name aliases). If I see a female name, or a single initial for the first name, I will typically avoid a new author.

I should say, I do like Sarah Hoyt.

Anonymous Vidfamne July 17, 2015 2:26 PM  

Swiss man writing about a teutonic explorer sounds like it might be good.

Blogger Groot July 17, 2015 2:27 PM  

They don't even listen to each other. If you listen, you'll notice they politely take turns talking, but they're talking about entirely different topics. Back in the day, I had a room-mate who'd get coked up and start the rapid monologue. I'd keep reading my newspaper. They don't even expect you to listen. Pretty, though.

Anonymous Godfrey July 17, 2015 2:30 PM  

I read. I usually read books published before 1965 or so. Most of the new stuff is shallow poorly written PC nonsense.
Oh... and I didn't buy a Tor book today.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan July 17, 2015 2:38 PM  

"A tomb called Iwo Jima" No chicks involved, obviously sexist trash of the patriarchy. Very interesting though

Anonymous Trimegistus July 17, 2015 2:39 PM  

Men do read: they read nonfiction. I don't know if there are numbers available, but just my (admittedly casual and non-systematic) study of the bookstore shelves suggest that most nonfiction is written for male readers. The big exceptions being crafts books and cookbooks.

Anonymous Marceline vs. Magic Man: Who Will Win? July 17, 2015 2:41 PM  

"I just got a copy of a fictionalized account of the Siege of Malta."

Well I'm glad they did it, and I'm glad you bought it and gave it to a young man.... but frankly I'm astounded that anybody could fictionalize that story, when the reality of what happened is so utterly mind-blowing. Still... onya mate.

Anonymous LegallySpeaking July 17, 2015 2:41 PM  

"Why don't all those hateful, evil, racist, misogynist, homophobic, cis-gendered, transphobic bigoted Nazis read the literature we write that insults them and bores them and makes them the bad guys?"

I really don't think these fluff-heads have brain one in their heads.

Shades of this scene from The Critic: (starts at 20:25):
"Hey, why so glum, chum?"
"Because not one of those worthless stuckup boys asked me to dance."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzKl3m3vpuA

Anonymous Michael Maier July 17, 2015 2:42 PM  

I bought a Tor book (Ender's Game) the other day.

Used.

Blogger Expendable Faceless Minion July 17, 2015 2:47 PM  

I thought "Hey, there might be something on that list that I might like."

Ehhhh, no. I gave it a real, honest try, but no go.

Anonymous MrGreenMan July 17, 2015 2:48 PM  

@Marceline vs. Magic Man: Who Will Win?

It was a novel that only added fiction to fill in historical holes - so it tried to be true where truth could be known. It had dates, times, names, locations, and sourced specific chroniclers when possible. They dropped in some dialogues to move it along in certain spots that would be lost to history - e.g., things said between defenders of Fort St. Elmo, the specific exchange within the Turk war council.

Anonymous RedJack #22 July 17, 2015 2:49 PM  

9. Groot

I pointed that out to my bride when we were first married. She said "I don't expect you to respond, you HAVE TO LISTEN!!!!" I told her to talk to pillow if that is all she needed. A conversation requires input from both sides.

Then the fight started. One that I won, but she still says she really doesn't want me to respond to her talks, even though she knows I will give input.

Anonymous MrGreenMan July 17, 2015 2:54 PM  

@Marceline vs. Magic Man: Who Will Win?

I remembered when I was much younger having inherited my father's pile of dime-store books that similarly walked the historical fiction line - factual where truth could be known, citing chroniclers where there were such sources, but filling in believable fiction to glue together the facts. "Harry of Monmouth" stands out in particular as one that was enjoyable - like a chapter from Plutarch's Lives, if you want something you could read in a day that will make you interested in learning more about history but not have to work too hard while reading it.

Blogger VD July 17, 2015 2:54 PM  

Which reminds me: how are you finding 100 years of solitude?

Mostly tedious. It's well-written, at least in translation, but I haven't found the magical realism to be even remotely interesting yet.

Anonymous Krul July 17, 2015 2:57 PM  

Re: 18. RedJack #22

It's not about the nail

Anonymous DIY Brain Surgeon July 17, 2015 3:02 PM  

Teutonic explorer? That might be interesting.

Anonymous Sparx401 July 17, 2015 3:09 PM  

That's what bores me about modern Christian literature and movies: they're so mundane and usually about a football player who's sport's problems parallel his spiritual problems, but then gets converted in the end after making the touchdown. Either that or some conservo-brand feminist "spiritual awakening".

It makes it seem as if Christians don't have any bloody imagination at all (Vox and John C Wright notwithstanding, of course).

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis July 17, 2015 3:10 PM  

Teutonic explorer? That might be interesting.

That is what I was thinking as well.

Anonymous MrGreenMan July 17, 2015 3:30 PM  

@VD

"Mostly tedious. It's well-written, at least in translation, but I haven't found the magical realism to be even remotely interesting yet."

To suggest it will get better would be a lie.

Anonymous Stg58 / Animal Mother #225 July 17, 2015 3:30 PM  

I'm reading "Japan At War". It's a fascinating book; hundreds of oral accounts of Japanese civilians, military personnel, family members. Bewildering, fascinating and heartbreaking all at the same time. I've never read a clearer depiction of Hubris.

Anonymous MrGreenMan July 17, 2015 3:33 PM  

"Love In the Time of Cholera" and "Nobody Writes to the Colonel" seemed better from Marquez, at least in hindsight; perhaps they were just shorter. He seemed gimmicky, like Kurt Vonnegut and the waveform religion, but the gimmick was often that GGM appears as a walk on cameo as a reporter in some of his stories.

Blogger Josh July 17, 2015 3:40 PM  

they're so mundane and usually about a football player who's sport's problems parallel his spiritual problems, but then gets converted in the end after making the touchdown

You should read Monday Night Jihad.

Anonymous BGS July 17, 2015 3:41 PM  

All her examples were just exceptions that proved the rule.

1. Listened to before sex.
2. Female asked direct specific question and woman tries to answer a different question.
3. Woman yells fire.
4. Telling gay friend about a guys penis.
Did I miss any?

If you listen, you'll notice they politely take turns talking, but they're talking about entirely different topics

They also seem to start a circular conversation with each other when work/patients show up. Leaving the bored person to go take care of things.

Blogger ray July 17, 2015 3:41 PM  

Publishing, editing, writing, English departments... these people made it clear decades ago that if I wanted to be involved in any way, I'd have to jettison merit and accept my Last Class Citizenship. Learn to celebrate inferiority, I mean diversity. Because it was the 'turn' of Women and Minorities and Homos. Ain't that convenient.


Took me a few years to accept that The Team really was that selfish, dishonest, and hateful. But eventually I got it. Publishing houses, literature, interacting with editors, fiction workshops, and especially academic departments -- dumped them all and never looked back. Otherwise they'd still be kicking and ignoring me today. For just as long as I'd put up with it.

Blogger Jack Ward July 17, 2015 3:43 PM  

I'm ready to re-read Victoria. That, in prep for the 4GW manual.And, am really, really ready for the Stars Came back.And, probably anything else Rolf chooses to write; until he proves my loyalty misplaced. With VD to guide him, that's unlikely.

Blogger AmyJ July 17, 2015 3:44 PM  

I remember seeing a lot of westerns and spy novels on my dad's and granddad's bookshelves while I was growing up. Those seem to be two genres that are swiftly gathering dust, if not outright taken over by romance authors masquerading as serious authors.

It's gotten so bad that my dad and brothers, if they do read, read only non-fiction or older fiction. One brother has immersed himself in horror, as that seems to be a genre difficult to feminize (re: sex up).

Blogger Eraser July 17, 2015 3:45 PM  

I never really got Gabriel García Márquez. IMO Mario Vargas Llosa is much better, though he might not be so interesting if you have no interest in Latin American history.

Anonymous Pax Romana July 17, 2015 3:46 PM  

I've been rereading the Sword of Truth series (I know it's published by ToR), and it is probably the most libertarian, anti-communist, anti-leftist series I've read. (at least leading up to book 6, Faith of the Fallen, which is one of my favorite books, period)

I really only recommend books leading up to 6. After that, Goodkind falls into the Robert Jordan trap of writing a bajillion books, hoping to cash in on a once-good idea.

Blogger Salt July 17, 2015 3:46 PM  

Lots of men read. They're just not looking to the traditional publishers... they've gone Indie.

Blogger Bies Podkrakowski July 17, 2015 3:55 PM  

This article seems to be relevant here:

http://www.memoriapress.com/articles/dangerous-article-boys

Anonymous BGS July 17, 2015 4:09 PM  

OT: This protest against Obama seems like it would backfire, especially if Mooch lifts up her skit.
http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/more-news/186649-kenya-gears-for-mass-nude-protest-against-obamas-aggressive-gay-stance.html
"“The procession shall be carried out by approximately 5,000 totally naked men and women to protest the President Barack Obama’s open and aggressive support for Homosexuality.

“The party’s main objective is for him to understand the difference between a man and a woman,”

Anonymous Anonymous July 17, 2015 4:10 PM  

The novel by Christian Kracht is worth a read; he catched a lot of Flak for being a "Kryptofaschist" by the perpetually offended here in Germany. And it's an entertaining novel as well.

Anonymous Clint #47/#73 July 17, 2015 4:24 PM  

Publishing, editing, writing, English departments... these people made it clear decades ago that if I wanted to be involved in any way, I'd have to jettison merit and accept my Last Class Citizenship. Learn to celebrate inferiority, I mean diversity. Because it was the 'turn' of Women and Minorities and Homos. Ain't that convenient.

As a professor of English, my first reaction when someone says this sort of thing is to reject it, but then I think of my coworkers.

You know, in my classes, I think students get a good view of literature (of course, I am normally teaching composition, not literature), but in the classes my coworkers teach.... yeah, You are right. I would not want my children to take classes from them, without me there to set them straight outside of class. Most students don't have that opportunity, I am afraid, unless they make it for themselves. Most don't.

Blogger Mark July 17, 2015 4:36 PM  

Mostly tedious. It's well-written, at least in translation, but I haven't found the magical realism to be even remotely interesting yet.

Yah, it turns out it's no more interesting in the original language.

Anonymous Discard July 17, 2015 4:44 PM  

I like Alison Weir. Anybody who can make the War of the Roses intelligible has a talent.

Anonymous Sam the Man July 17, 2015 4:44 PM  

The Swiss fellows book might be interesting, another nod in that direction.

As a middle aged guy with a hobby of competitive shooting, I find that the internet allowed me to go back and delve into topics and old books about the subject, so their is no need to read new stuff. Now if I want to know how to tune a lee Enfield to shoot well, I can buy or find on-line for no cost the 1920s through 1950s books and articles on the topic.

Same is true of tuning an M1 Garand to NM standards, same is true of tuning Swiss k31 rifles to shoot at their best, same it tuning a M1903 to shoot at NM standards, all the way back to shooting a pattern 1853 Enfield .577 snider conversion. With so much old technology works to read, I do not really find the need to read new fiction.

I find the same is true of my buddies. A fellow I know is into old bikes he has some really old bikes and is now able to track down parts and what not on line. You could not do that prior to 1995.

Point is I expect guys are much less into fiction today as the internet allowed anyone with a hobby to pursue it much further an deeper than they would have been able to prior to 1995 and also reach like minded fellows you would never have contacted back then. There is only so much time in a day, pursuit of real things kind of supplants fiction for most guys, at least ones from the technical occupations.

Anonymous Lawyer Guy July 17, 2015 4:48 PM  

I even am careful with the better female scifi writers like Hoyt, Moon, and Cherryh. All, Hoyt to a lesser extent, have at times gone angst to the point of me not liking the story. That's what amazon reviews are for, I guess.

Turning to fantasy, I like the first three Anita Blake books. Then, holy crap. They got really bad fast, women's furry porn.

Anonymous Ha July 17, 2015 4:52 PM  

"Why don't all those hateful, evil, racist, misogynist, homophobic, cis-gendered, transphobic bigoted Nazis read the literature we write that insults them and bores them and makes them the bad guys?"

Why don't the inmates of Dachau read Der Sturmer? It's a mystery.

Female author worth reading: Colleen McCullough, First Man in Rome series.

Anonymous The Kurgan July 17, 2015 4:54 PM  

They don't even listen to each other. If you listen, you'll notice they politely take turns talking, but they're talking about entirely different topics.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, a man who has definitely spent some time observing the females of the Terran species of humanoids.
It's like they are birds and just need to both make and hear the right sounds for generic acceptance both by the other bird and by the bird-tribe in general.

Anonymous Rolf July 17, 2015 4:58 PM  

The book I'm finishing up now (making sure the technical details on metal-casting and chemistry are correct) is a YA prequel in the TSCB universe that is specifically targeted at boys. It'll be interesting to see how it's received. Hoping to be done in a week or two, then editing, but I think that will go fast for once.

Anonymous Spooner July 17, 2015 5:07 PM  

21. Krul

Nail, hammer, head.

Blogger Marissa July 17, 2015 5:12 PM  

It looks like 90% of what's published today wants to be on the Oprah Book Club (and I'm not referring to the 5% of books she chooses that are classics). I think other people can relate, but you can just tell what kind of book it's going to be by looking at the cover and reading the title because they are marketing to the Oprah demographic who collects books they mostly don't read or finish. They are really emotional books with not much in the way of plot except for an almost certain abuse story thrown in.

Anonymous Stg58 / Animal Mother #225 July 17, 2015 5:14 PM  

Gafffigan summed up all that shit perfectly.

"Tonight on Lifetime Meredith Baxter Birney is beaten with a steel rod by her husband"

Blogger ray July 17, 2015 5:18 PM  

Clint -- my comment was general and not (heh) inclusive. There are probly a few dinos scattered around the lit departments of the west. But they are few. Even in the Eighties, male profs and assistants kept their heads down and mouths censored. Or they were forced out. Formally or informally. Or just made v miserable.

I had a couple tenured male profs that gently resisted. But by the Nineties, I think the vast majority of eng/writing depts. were hopelessly corrupt. The Plague cannot be cured, but can be rejected. If all I have left is to remove my presence, then away I goes. <-- :O)

Cheers.

Blogger automattthew July 17, 2015 5:19 PM  

James Blish is really good. I managed to pick up books 1 and 4 of the Okie sequence, and now I have to find 2 and 3. He was apparently an agnostic during his writing career, but died an Anglican.

A Case of Conscience is a very strong exploration of religion and evil. It has a "thematic" sequel titled Black Easter which I just purchased. The story is an attempt to realistically portray black magic leading to a bad result, which is why I asked JCW about Blish in last night's Brainstorm.

Anonymous NorthernHamlet July 17, 2015 5:24 PM  

VD,

Echoing mrgreenman, I'd agree some of his other works are better from a story-telling perspective. If you have yet to read cholera, don't let 100 years turn you off. Not sure if it'll be your sort of thing story-wise, but literarily speaking, it continues the Hemingway tradition in a satisfying way. magical realism was always a bit tackey for me.

Anonymous Godfrey July 17, 2015 5:40 PM  

12. Anonymous Trimegistus July 17, 2015 2:39 PM
"Men do read: they read nonfiction."


I used to read nonfiction exclusively until later in life when I realized the most so called "nonfiction" is really fiction.

Anonymous Sheila July 17, 2015 5:41 PM  

I read about 75% fiction. My husband reads about 99% non fiction. He reads tons of military and political history. I read everything but horror. I've purchased and read quite a bit of non-fiction, but prefer social and cultural history or autobiographical accounts. Two of my more recent purchases (past year or two) were "Fortress Malta" by James Holland and "Quartered Safe Out Here," George McDonald Fraser's account of his military years. Highly recommend both.

I did get my husband to try the first of Lindsey Davis' murder mysteries set in ancient Rome - "Silver Pigs." He actually enjoyed it but never finished it. After reading her semi-autobiographical book and discovering her social and political leanings, I see them now far more clearly in her latest books featuring a female protagonist, and they're much weaker stories. Pity.

My college prof who taught Chaucer (an older southern gentleman) got me started reading my favorite historical fiction writer, Dorothy Dunnett. She has two magnificent series (only tenuously related), one set in the 16th and one in the 15th centuries. Lots of historical fact interwoven with brilliant fiction. These are NOT romance novels concealed as historical fiction - cannot recommend them enough for anyone - men in particular who don't normally read fiction.

I may not understand many of the more technical bits in various SF or military fiction, but if the story and characters are good, it doesn't matter. For example, I recently read my first Tom Kratman books, his "Countdown" book and sequels. The specs on military hardware went over my head, but I still enjoyed the plot and characters and story. Of course, if I were to recommend something like that to my spouse, he'd argue it's always better to read a factual account in the first place. Just different perspectives.

Anonymous Marceline vs. Magic Man: Who Will Win? July 17, 2015 5:45 PM  

"what's published today wants to be on the Oprah Book Club (and I'm not referring to the 5% of books she chooses that are classics). "

Not being snarky, simply curious: what in your view constitutes a classic? (Either lists or abstract qualities would be helpful.)

Anonymous Mike M. (vfm #315) July 17, 2015 5:47 PM  

Sam the Man raises an excellent point. There's an immense amount of material out there for < $1, or even free. I honestly consider it the best use for something like a Kindle.

Anonymous Rolf July 17, 2015 6:12 PM  

31 - thanks for the kind words. I hope I can live up to your expectations.

55 - agreed. Now reading the A Narrative Of The Mutiny, On Board His Majesty's Ship Bounty; And The Subsequent Voyage Of Part Of The Crew, In The Ship's Boat. Surprisingly good and readable. He may have been a hard-ass, but there is no denying he was a good navigator and sailor.

Anonymous Eric Ashley July 17, 2015 6:12 PM  

I looked forward to Somewhither, OTOH. Considering reading it to the kids with editing.

Christian books that are imaginative....
Shivering World....deserved an award for craftsmanship.
The Circle books, and some others by Dekker, who yes does not strike one as an alpha. But he's very imaginative.

Anonymous Clint #47/#73 July 17, 2015 6:23 PM  

But by the Nineties, I think the vast majority of eng/writing depts. were hopelessly corrupt.

No doubt. I work with several self-proclaimed Marxists (freaking English folks...). The rest are a mix of socialists and non-politicals, who just tend to vote for whoever is making them feel good about themselves at the time (if they vote at all).

Blogger buwaya July 17, 2015 6:29 PM  

If you want something Marquez-like, but better, a lot better, and probably up your alley -
R. M. Koster - "The Dissertation"
Vargas Llosa - "War of the End of the World"

Blogger buwaya July 17, 2015 6:31 PM  

Somewhither is not good for reading to kids - I have experience here, I was reading mine Tom Wolfe stuff by the end.
Too much gore, torture and dismemberment in Somewhither.

Anonymous Steve Canyon July 17, 2015 6:32 PM  

Of the 50 or so hardbound books I bought last year, half were used, the others I bought new at museums.

With the abundance of hipster fatties there, bookstores aren't even a good place to hit on hot women. They're buying their copies of 50 Shades off Amazon

Anonymous Marceline vs. Magic Man: Who Will Win? July 17, 2015 6:33 PM  

"It's well-written, at least in translation, but I haven't found the magical realism to be even remotely interesting yet."

Well you know, nobody in the world can tell you what you ought to find (or not find) interesting, so there's no gainsaying you on that score. But, sitting around waiting for the so-called "magic realism" to become interesting isn't the right way to read a work of that nature. It's sort of like waiting for "Malone Dies" to turn into Dashiell Hammett. It's like being annoyed that Walt Whitman doesn't sound like Tennyson. Relax, dood, let it be what it wants to be, and if that doesn't suit your taste, well then that's cool too.


Anonymous BGS July 17, 2015 6:55 PM  

I present to you, a man who has definitely spent some time observing the females of the Terran species of humanoids.

Remember you have to chose whether to love women or understand them. You can't go back from the latter.

With the abundance of hipster fatties there, bookstores aren't even a good place to hit on hot women.

Wouldn't the hipster fatties make you look better? Unless that describes you being the most masculine man there should be advantageous.

Blogger Daniel July 17, 2015 7:26 PM  

If only 100 Years of Solitude felt that short when I read it.

Blogger Groot July 17, 2015 7:40 PM  

@63: "love women or understand them": Disagree. But then, what I really like about them, you don't see.

@56 Rolf: I love the author's name: Bligh. All three of those books are excellent: about the mutiny, the boat trip back to England, and the mutineers' subsequent life on Pitcairn Island.

@41. Discard: For a ripping history book, also covering, among much else, the War of the Roses, I recommend Winston Churchill's A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Everyone within 5 degrees of relation to any royal (i.e., a 5th cousin or closer) ended up dead. Incidentally, he won the Nobel Prize in literature for this.

Blogger John Wright July 17, 2015 7:51 PM  

"It makes it seem as if Christians don't have any bloody imagination at all"

That is not the problem. The problem is Christians have forgotten how to convert the heathens. The stories we preach to the choir are meant to cheer the choir, but not to bring Saul of Tarsus into the fold. That takes a different approach.

These sports-as-Jesus movies are not meant to be drama. They are meant to be a homily, to be preachy. They are meant only to reach their core audience of the already converted. Drama dies when preaching starts.

Note that Christ in the Gospel taught everything by stories and parables. He was not obvious, and did not hit anyone over the head with a two by four. Those without eyes to see will not see. Those with eyes to see cannot be prevented from seeing.

It is the preachingness that makes these Come-to-Jesus movies so undramatic.

It is like reading Ayn Rand. I doubt anyone not an avid fan of libertarian capitalism ever enjoyed those books for their craftsmanship. They are homilies meant for the audience of the faithful.

Blogger CM July 17, 2015 7:53 PM  

Sparx,

Have you tried Ted Dekker? He's... unusual... in most of his stuff. But its not lacking in imagination.

Blogger buwaya July 17, 2015 7:59 PM  

True, re preaching.
Francis Xavier, not knowing the language, would walk through Indian villages ringing a bell, something they weren't used to. The people would follow him out of curiosity.
I suggest that the Church should organize processions through the streets of San Francisco on feast days, with masked brotherhoods, carrochios, floats and all, to drum up publicity. Protests and controversy are a plus.

Blogger Cee July 17, 2015 8:09 PM  

I suggest that the Church should organize processions through the streets of San Francisco on feast days, with masked brotherhoods, carrochios, floats and all, to drum up publicity. Protests and controversy are a plus.
This. I want this. I want this so much.

Blogger Thucydides July 17, 2015 8:40 PM  

I suggest that the Church should organize processions through the streets of San Francisco on feast days, with masked brotherhoods, carrochios, floats and all, to drum up publicity. Protests and controversy are a plus.

Indeed. OTOH imagine the hostile response of the public administration, who wold take every step possible to ensure such a procession would never happen. Permits, routing through obviously unsuitable places like industrial parks, lawsuits and injunctions for everything from "blocking traffic" to "creating a hostile environment".

Perhaps the real way to do this would be insurgent style, popping up in unexpected places (a procession by a flash mob in a mall), leaving Samizdat in public places (kind of hard to delete paper pamphlets or bumper stickers) or even guerrilla art (San Fransisco has had bus shelters and benches painted with "Undocumented Democrats are against Donald Trump" signs.

Where there is a will....

Blogger John Wright July 17, 2015 8:51 PM  

"Not being snarky, simply curious: what in your view constitutes a classic?"

Glad you asked!

Here is a discussion of the classics of literature:

http://www.scifiwright.com/2007/01/great-books-and-genre-books%E2%80%94intro/

And here is a discussion of the classic authors of SF:
http://www.scifiwright.com/2012/01/the-fifty-essential-authors-of-science-fiction/

Anonymous WaterBoy July 17, 2015 8:56 PM  

Anyone got a Scooby snack?

Anonymous Discard July 17, 2015 9:02 PM  

66 Groot: I read that in the military. I was a history nerd's history nerd, and Churchill wrote for the literate masses.
I read them in mass market paperback, and I loved the cover of "The Birth of Britain". Two groups of men in chain mail standing in a field, ready to smash each other. A friend of mine back then said, "Looks like a rugby match".

It might not be a bad idea to behead the Royals and their 5th cousins again, with the crown going to whichever Englishman had the highest score. Then the new King and the runners up, newly created dukes and earls, could cleanse the island of the invaders and their enablers.

Blogger Cee July 17, 2015 9:36 PM  

Writer's advice on villains from Tumblr via Facebook.

I found part of the problem: This passes for writing advice.

Blogger pyrrhus July 17, 2015 9:37 PM  

It's to the point that if I see a book written in the last 40 years by a woman, especially sci-fi or historical fiction, I assume that it is of no interest. The temporary exemptions I gave to Ursula LeGuin and Connie Willis have been revoked in the last 15 years...

Blogger cavalier973 July 17, 2015 9:57 PM  

The last book I finished was "Who Censored Roger Rabbit?", which is a bit more serious than the movie.

A couple of good fantasy novels I've read are "Priest" and "Thief" by Matthew Colville. They're meant to be more in the style of the pulp fantasy novels. They are self-published works, and are available on Kindle for about $3 each. As an aside, Colville is working on a series of YouTube videos in which he creates a character in each edition of D&D. They're fairly entertaining.

Anonymous Sparx401 July 17, 2015 11:07 PM  

Note that Christ in the Gospel taught everything by stories and parables. He was not obvious, and did not hit anyone over the head with a two by four. Those without eyes to see will not see. Those with eyes to see cannot be prevented from seeing.

It is the preachingness that makes these Come-to-Jesus movies so undramatic.


I agree wholeheartedly! It's so blatant and ham-fisted. There is no allegory, no nudges nor winks nor nods. Sometimes the movie feels like it the writers jam actual sermon notes in the totally-NOT-Jesus character's dialogue.

@CM - I'll look into Dekker. Never heard of him before.

Blogger JaimeInTexas July 17, 2015 11:54 PM  

To follow on Kratman's observation, in movies to be specific. A Christian movie ought to be excellent but these days, put the Christian label on it and by magic it has to be good.

These are excellent Christian movies but do not expect to be in the mood for a fun time afterwards, they encourage introspection and prayer:
Chariots Of Fire
To End All Wars
Sophie Scholls: The Final Days
Joeaux Noel

I am sure there are others and any suggestions will be appreciated.

Of course, excellent movies do not have to be all serious.

Blogger Eric July 18, 2015 4:30 AM  

If I see a female name, or a single initial for the first name, I will typically avoid a new author.

I'm the same way. Before I buy a book from a new female author I want to see positive words from someone I respect. Unless it's a $0.99 crap shoot. I'll buy pretty much anything that looks interesting if the price is low enough, though I'm pretty quick to drop cheap books if they aren't grabbing me.

Anonymous Bz July 18, 2015 5:39 AM  

An aside on SF great books: I seem to recall that Harold Bloom in his book The Western Canon (er, I think) put Gene Wolfe and John Crowley in an appendix of worthwhile authors. That might not sound like much, but there weren't a lot of authors who got in there. So I would say there is some very high quality work being done, even by mainstream critical standards.

HP Lovecraft is another one who has somehow gotten onto the parnassus. Now published in the Library of America series, which is a good sign. Philip K Dick is one who also has thus been elevated to respectability, even if he's disappeared a bit after Hollywood interest waned.

Anonymous Shut up rabbit July 18, 2015 6:26 AM  

@72. John Wright
An excellent, well reasoned list of SF classics. Just to be pedantic, (and prove I read it to the end) the last one is known as Watchmen not The Watchman.

Anonymous Marceline the Vampire Queen July 18, 2015 6:27 AM  

@JCW -- well, good to see you had enough piss 'n vinegar in ye to give a nod to our fine friend Senor Borges. Some of yer other notes were memorable, too. Good job.

"...strange pain, strange sin, where I am I don't know, I'll never know, in the silence you don't know, you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on."

--our other friend (no, not George Harrison)

Anonymous Marceline vs. Ice King: Who Will Win? (Aw, C'mon!) July 18, 2015 6:36 AM  

@#82: well we could clear up the confusion once and for all by just calling it Ipsos Custodes.

Blogger Jack Ward July 18, 2015 7:28 AM  

Rolf:

Picked up this thread from yesterday. Followed your link to Bligh's literary effort. It should be interesting.
The YA as a prequel to Stars I will get. Have not read any young adults since some of Heinlein's work. Since you wrote it; I'll read it.
You probably have a wheel barrow full of novels before the Stars Came Back universe is used up. Should be interesting to see what comes after that. If I live long enough.
Oh, just a wild guess here, but, I expect the rewrite of Stars will will best novel at the Hugos in 2016. As for 2017? Who knows, who cares.

Blogger J Van Stry July 18, 2015 12:16 PM  

That's why I get hate mail from SJW's, I write primarily for men.

Blogger Marissa July 18, 2015 6:32 PM  

Marceline, I'm referring to the entries on Oprah's list by Dickens, Faulkner and Tolstoy. Canon authors.

Blogger chris July 18, 2015 7:57 PM  

You forget that the moderns will not read Tolkien (but love the movies that hit you with the sledgehammer of stupid) and refuse to read anything earlier.
Even English translations.
Because socalist realism is so ideological.
The fact it is boring and we do not read, is seen as a feature, not a bug.

Reading?
Stross, Annilation Codex -- hate his politics, his theology sucks, but he can write.
Vox has a good series involving bones. Better than a certain TV series involving an iron throne (and the TV series is better than the book.
Better that Zed Williamson's most recent paleo book -- it left me cold because there was no plot arc, no drama. Williamson has written good tragedies -- the weapon is a meditation on what happens to the man who does follow orders.
Kratman is ideological, but he understands plot.
Ringo is a better writer technically than Kratman or Zed and he understands plot. Pournelle is better -- re reading the codominium books, which are still working despite the assumptions being broken.
Early Stephensen. Early Gibson. Now available second hand shops. Early Webber.
J.K Rowling. Seriously. Particularly the first book. Ken McLeod. In short the Scots do get reality: something about their winters.
Of the newer, I like Hoyt, Nuttall, and John Wright's critical essays. I agree with Wright that Pullman is horrible.

Anonymous Nikolaus H July 23, 2015 9:30 AM  

Hi VD,

Every single advertisement on my Kindle is crappy women's romance despite never purchased one. Actually the only Kindle book I have ever purchased is your Riding The Red Horse. I usually rather my ebooks without DRM, convert to mobi and mail to the Kindle. Lots of old Larry Nivens and Heinleins and Henryk Sinkiewiczes, come to think of it is pretty much an extremely male and warlike collection. WTF are the doing, do you have any idea? Bezos is not an idiot and writing software to make intelligent recommendations is not hard.

Do you think the code basically says before you bought 50 Kindle books we won't look at the ones you bought, we won't look at what other stuff you sent to your Kindle, just push chick flick? It's crazy.

BTW it is amazon.de and this is the shit that gets advertised to me: http://www.amazon.de/Berenice-F%C3%BCrstin-Rebellin-Christine-Ambrosius-ebook/dp/B00Y18RUH8

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