Fisking a GQ article – Why won’t men read my preachy literati bullshit?

I haven’t fisked anything for a while, but when Mike Kupari showed me this pretentious dreck from GQ it was so awful that I was legally obligated to step in and break down all the goofiness line by line. As usual the original article is in italics and my response is in bold.

EDIT – when I saw how many times I used the word “bullshit” I went ahead and added it to the title, because it is the best way to describe this mess.

https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/culture/article/men-not-reading-novels

Conversations with friends: why men need to read more novels

I agree with this title. More people need to read novels. That’s how I get paid.

Never mind the so-called demise of the male novelist, where are all the male readers? Ash Sarkar on why we all miss out when half the population turn their back on books 

This is actually a really interesting topic (one which I think about a lot, because I am a male novelist!) however the conclusions Ash draws are totally ass backwards, and actually serve as a perfect example of why the same people currently whining about this problem are the ones who caused it.

By Ash Sarkar

Who apparently also writes for the Guardian, a commie rag of a newspaper that will not rest until it sucks all the fun out of books, so none of what she says next is a shocking twist.    

It’s bedtime, and me and my boyfriend are comparing notes on what we’re reading. I flick through the tomes on his e-reader; it’s science fiction, politics, or politics in space.

Uh oh. It sounds like somebody is having wrong fun.

He’s halfway through Kim Stanley Robinson, following hot on the heels of China Mieville, Vincent Bevins, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Robinson and Mieville are talented, but not my thing. I don’t know Bevins. I’ve enjoyed the Le Guin I’ve read. Luckily her boyfriend wasn’t reading something really trashy, like a Larry Correia novel. She would have dumped him on the spot.

He peers over at the pages of my Jane Austen, and wrinkles his nose. “It’s all chitter-chatter.” I ask him to explain what he means. “Well, there’s just a lot of talking.”

As opposed to all the many other common definitions of chitter-chatter…

He hunkers back down with the expanse of Red Mars and leaves me in the drawing rooms of Mansfield Park.

Because a book from 1814 consisting of a poor girl’s conversations with her richer cousins is inherently superior to a lesser book about pioneers colonizing a planet. Why? Shut up, Ash explained.

It’s not that he’s a protein-powder-where-a-brain-should-be bro.

Because you know, vapid stuff like the challenges of growing crops on an alien planet with different gravity are the kind of topics enjoyed by big dumb idiots. Grog smash. Grog like to ponder orbital mechanics.

Indeed, he bears all the hallmarks of a fully reconstructed man: NTS on the radio, bell hooks on the shelf,

I don’t know what any of those things are, and I am fine with that.

a yoga membership used at least thrice-weekly.

Who the hell unironically uses “thrice”? I won’t, however, knock yoga. After a lifetime of injuries related to manual labor, fighting, and lifting heavy things, Diamond Dallas Page’s yoga for broken down dudes has been AWESOME for me.

But literary fiction, as opposed to non-fiction, history, or sci-fi, just doesn’t interest him.

And? You know it is okay for different people to enjoy different things, right? That’s why genres exist.

 Why prod the nooks and crannies of the human heart, when you can terraform planets, or dig into the CIA’s murky psy-ops in Indonesia?

Because the nook and cranny thing sounds painfully boring?

Plus, honestly, we can do the whole prodding of the heart thing in genre fiction too. The literati don’t hold the patent on human emotion. The main structural differences are that literati settings are more mundane and less stuff happens. Whoop de fuckin’ do.

And he’s not alone. According to Nielsen, despite men famously making up half the population, they only account for 20% of the audience for literary fiction.

Meanwhile, my audience is probably 70-80% male, and I’m rather successful at selling books to them, but we’ll come back to that.  

Side note, I like how men “famously” make up approximately half the population. Duh. When I’m editing and I see shit like that it tells me GQ pays by the word and by golly this writer’s gonna get every cent she can.

Part of this may be down to the changing landscape of authors themselves.

This next bit is partially correct, and presents some evidence about the declining number of men in publishing, but she’s getting the cause and effect completely wrong. I’ll explain in a second.

In 2000, men made up 61% of the UK’s top selling hardbacks. By 2020, this number fell to 43%

This is probably accurate.

Where straight white men used to dominate bestseller charts and prize shortlists, now it is people of colour, LGBT people and women who are both at the avant-garde of writing and driving sales in stores.

It wasn’t the audience who changed. It was the publishing industry, as it became increasingly fixated on identity politics rather than the criteria that used to drive acquisitions. It wasn’t like straight white dudes suddenly stopped writing. They just weren’t the flavor of the month, and publishers couldn’t brag about how diverse they were at Manhattan cocktail parties.

The correlation between popularity and diversity is zilch. Publishers, critics, and social justice warriors care about an author’s skin tone or sexual preferences. The vast majority of readers don’t give a shit, and just want to be entertained. They usually don’t know what demographic boxes the author checks unless the marketing department beats them over the head with it.

Bernardine Evaristo, Paul Beatty, and Anna Burns have been lauded by the Booker committee for their narrative experimentation; meanwhile publishing houses across the country scour the internet for the next Sally Rooney.

I don’t know who any of those people are. I’m from the sci-fi/fantasy ghetto. Comparatively, most literati writers sell zilch, until they show up on some Oprah Book Club level promotion, then they sell a ton. Most of the ones I know in real life still have their day jobs.  

Commercially successful writing by women is, mercifully, no longer automatically designated as ‘chick-lit’.

That’s crap. And extra ironic since she cites Le Guin as a bad example at the beginning. There have been respected female authors in most genres forever. Chick-lit was a specific subcategory and the stuff that got “automatically” put there was usually because it fit. This is sort of like complaining about Aliens and then pretending there were no strong female characters in movies until they rebooted Ghostbusters.

In recent years, the work of Marian Keyes has been critically reappraised; meanwhile Torrey Peters, and Candice Carty-Williams have garnered both plaudits and decent sales figures.

Good for them on the sales figures. Plaudits are utterly meaningless.

Celebrity authors and those with big fan bases, like Richard Osman and Lee Child, may shift product, but creatively, straight white men haven’t kept up with those who’ve previously been consigned to the margins.

Lol wut? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard today, and I just saw Joe Biden’s press secretary spend 4 minutes babbling inanely because she couldn’t explain how inflation works.

That is one seriously dumb ass take, and the line that caused me to fisk this. How the hell do you cite a bunch of authors most people haven’t heard of working in one particular niche genre, and then use that to pronounce that white men can no longer keep up creatively? How does somebody who sneers at terraforming, but praises navel gazing, define “creative”?

That’s a rhetorical question, because I’m sure the answer is really pretentious.  

Also, “shift product”? Lady, Lee Child has sold enough Reacher novels to live in a house made of gold bars. The pretentious snoot literati twaddle novels which sell a handful of copies only exist because guys like Lee Child enable the bookstore to keep the lights on.

THE LITERARY CANON WILL SURVIVE HAVING TO HEAR MORE FROM ETHNIC MINORITIES, WOMEN, AND QUEER PEOPLE, AND A BIT LESS FROM MIDDLE-AGED UNI PROFESSORS

Holy shit, quit yelling at us, Ash.

That tiresome identity shit actually scares readers away. If your sales pitch leads with Buy This Because I Am A Bi-trans-queer-Muslim, that doesn’t inspire confidence in the consumer that the book will be good. If the book is good, you lead with the book. If the author has some pertinent identity, it had better relate to what the book is specifically about. Otherwise it’s a giant red flag to the audience.

Authors should lead with their product, not their pronouns. The market of people who buy books out of some identity politics sense of duty is small. Angsty white liberals and twitter weirdos talk a big game, but they don’t buy that many books.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t another article bemoaning the dearth of straight white men in contemporary literature.

Oh yeah. You seem real broke up about it.

Culture changes faster than politics.

They are not separate things. Politics is downstream from culture. The left has known this for a while. Most of the right is just starting to wake up to it. Guys like me have been pointing this out for years.

Elected leaders look at Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and LGBT rights with hostility and/or befuddlement,

Trite bullshit. Every one of those got polled, focus grouped, then featured prominently in the media, until the minute they were no longer beneficial to push a specific narrative. Then Patrice bought two more mansions and gave her brother $800k.

but publishers and editors have seized the identitarian moment – also known as identity politics – with all the zeal of the recently converted. Elite tastemakers can’t deliver social equality, but they are attempting to commission a diverse cultural landscape into existence.

The first bit is true. Publishers and editors are all in on identity politics. They jettisoned all that boring old traditional stuff, like making the audience happy, and instead concentrated on skin deep bullshit and author politics. Rather than entertaining, it became about THE MESSAGE.

That way people like Ash could act baffled when giant swaths of the audience got bored and wandered off. All we do is bore and lecture them, why are they leaving?  

 And I reckon the literary canon will survive having to hear more from ethnic minorities, women, and queer people, and a bit less from middle-aged uni professors lamenting their employer’s updated guidance on sexual harassment.

How is that working out for Disney and Netflix?

All that box checking nonsense doesn’t matter to the audience. They don’t care about middle-aged professors either (to be fair it appears lefty authors sure do know a lot about sexual harassment though!). The audience just wants to be entertained and not waste their time on garbage products that only got produced because a publisher was more concerned about identity politics than quality.

Watch. As usual some dumbass will get butt hurt at me and claim I’m saying authors from minority groups can’t produced entertaining books. On the contrary, I think any individual from any particular group can produce quality work. So how about we focus on creating quality work instead of your tiresome woke bullshit?

I’d be annoyed and disgusted by fake ass “allies” acting like I owe my success to the magnanimous white saviors in publishing. I know many of these vapid shallow assholes in real life, and they’ll give you a contract, brag about how they picked up Minority of the Week, then when your book doesn’t go gang busters, they dump you in the trash, then pick up a new hotness to brag about.

Unless of course you are an author who is really good at playing identity politics, then the publisher will flog you nonstop trying to make you the next big thing, regardless of how mediocre you are.

Crazy idea, but how about we just let authors write what they want, and then sell books that made the audience happy? Nope. Can’t have that. We need Own Voices and Sensitivity Readers, and better watch out if somebody on Goodreads doesn’t like something you wrote or the “writing community” will throw a tantrum until the book gets cancelled.

I despise this idiotic attitude that writers are only allowed to write certain specific demographics. We’re writers. Our job is to imagine extra hard and put it on paper. I’m not allowed to write a black dude or a French lesbian, but somehow I can write compelling space aliens or a time travelling manatee?  Fuck that noise.

While the material privileges of race, class, and gender remain stubbornly intact in society, the distribution of visibility has shifted meaning the caucasian Big Dogs of prestige literature can’t present themselves as the universal perspective anymore.

Uh huh… Privilege remains stubbornly intact, as she just got done explaining how they’ve pushed the white guys out of publishing. I’m sure there are no other industries where this has happened!

Now that minorities and the historically marginalised have a voice in publishing, no one really needs Jonathan Franzen or Martin Amis to speak on behalf of humanity.

Is there anyone actually dumb enough to think any author “speaks on behalf of humanity”? Could you possibly be any more pretentious? Look, I know a lot of authors. As a group we’re pretty screwed up. I’d rather have a lottery and pick a random plumber to represent humanity and we’d probably all be a lot better off.

Who are men when they don’t get to simply claim the status of godlike narrator?

This kind of angsty twaddle is why most people avoid LITERATURE like the plague. She’s saying something really dumb but trying to make it sound profound. What if a writer is like god in that universe? (massive bong rip)… Duuuuuuuuuuuude.   

 Plus, 3rd person omniscient sucks anyway.

Aside from some notable exceptions – Sean Thor Conroe’s Fuccboi being one – male writers who aren’t otherwise talking from a marginalised perspective have largely abandoned the novel as a means to make sense of cultural change.

So publishers, who she admits are obsessed with identity politics, have quit buying/promoting books from one particular demographic, so that means writers have “abandoned” it. Uh huh. Whenever they swim toward the lifeboat you bonked them over the head with an oar, so clearly they have abandoned lifeboats and prefer to drown or be eaten by sharks.  

Also, notice that everything Ash says is cloaked in this aura of ponderous importance? You can’t just write books. Oh no. They are tools to MAKE SENSE OF CULTURAL CHANGE HURUMPH HURUMPH.

That shit is why people come over to the genre fiction bad neighborhood where I hang out and buy fun books about zeppelin fights and giant robots.

Faced with the challenge of articulating themselves as themselves, it’s like straight white men have given up on the subtleties of literary fiction and said: “Fuck it – I’m doing stand up about cancel culture instead.”

That’s just wishful thinking and scare quotes. Has she presented any evidence at all that straight white authors can’t handle the “challenge of articulating themselves as themselves”? Especially when it contradicts her previous bullshit about their voices as middle-aged professors… Call it a hunch but I’m thinking Ash isn’t particularly honest, but figures as long as she makes it sound pseudo-intellectual enough nobody will question her circular nonsense.

Rather than bemoan the loss of the male novelist, as other commentators have done, it might be useful to ask where exactly the male reader of novels has gone

He ran away to escape from people like you.

– if he even ever existed.

Trust me, you sanctimonious shrew, male readers exist. I know because I’ve made millions of dollars providing entertainment products to them. Funny how that works.

Even the male literary titans still clinging on, such as Booker winners Julian Barnes and Yann Martel, have audiences which are 60% female.

I don’t know why it offends Ash so much that different kinds of people enjoy different kinds of things. I write action-oriented fantasy and sci-fi, yet I’ve still got a lot of female readers. It’s almost like everybody is a unique individual who doesn’t neatly fit in a box or something.

In truth, despite the historic dominance of men writing literary fiction, the idea of a male reader has been consistently derided throughout history.

What follows is more broad strokes bullshit.

You guys ever notice it is always the caring liberal who barks about cultural diversity, who then assumes all cultures are the same? There are plenty of cultures where reading is promoted and respected by men. There are others (like the one I personally come from) where reading was seen as a sissified activity, and I should have been doing something manlier, like cow punching or teenage alcoholism, yet I kicked the snot out of anybody who gave me shit about my “stupid elf books” and went on to write 25 novels, because nobody has to be held prisoner by the culture they were born into. So I’m gonna say her thesis here is dreck. But just watch how she twists it so all cultures fit her stupid worldview.

Even in the novel’s 19th Century heyday, reading fiction was a feminised activity – there was something a bit sexy about women who allowed books to activate their passions (Henry James wrote that one lady’s reputation for reading a lot “hung about her like the cloudy envelope of a goddess in an epic.”)

Well, Henry James is right. Chicks who read are hot.

But men who spend too much time indoors, reading novels and living their lives vicariously through the trials and tribulations of others, were widely considered cucks.

“Widely” in her imagination. I’m betting this vacuous mushroom never read any Louis L’amour.  I’m also betting she’s never seen things like the Commandant’s reading list. I come from one of the absolute least likely places in America to respect books, and grew up in a poor immigrant farming community, where in my 8th grade class only half of us could speak English, and only half of those could read, and I still call bullshit on that fake ass, histrionic take.

You know, men can go do manly stuff all day, and then read books to relax. These two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

A man’s literary interest had to be justified by ambition, linked to his masculine capacity for action, or contextualised in real-world exploration. They wander lonely as clouds, touch the heart of darkness, seek adventure on the road and end up getting dysentery.

As an actual professional editor it is hard to read something that fucking asinine pretending to be literaary and meaningful, and not have my eye twitch. Calm down, you fucking try hard.

This gendered division of the imagination endured even through the social and political revolutions of the 20th Century. Karl Ove Knausgaard has spoken of the suffocating weight of gender expectations on his own experience of writing: “It put such doubt in me that I’ve never really recovered from it,” he said to The Observer. “I don’t talk about feelings but I write a lot about feelings. Reading, that’s feminine, writing, that’s feminine. It is insane, it’s really insane but it still is in me.”

Oh no. Another European I’ve never heard of has self-esteem issues. Clearly this represents the thousands of us who write books for a living.

Women sit around and feel things, but men go out and do stuff: the idea of being confined inside, processing text and leading a sedentary lifestyle, has been traditionally disparaged as being unmanly.

Lady, I was the bestselling author in Baghdad and Baghram. I know how to weld, drive heavy equipment, punch cows, and literally spent the last four days at gun school. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I take advice about the true nature of manhood from some chick writing for a magazine that features articles ranking the best metrosexual footie jammies.

I can’t possibly imagine why male readers are fleeing a genre dominated by people like you.

But today, that’s the way most people live and work. Even before the pandemic made offices of our homes, the shift to an information and services-based economy collapsed the indoors/outdoors distinction between men and women.

Yeah… That’s the primary differentiation between men and women. Working indoors or not.

Holy fucking shit. There’s nothing more annoying that a wannabe writer switching gears and pretending to be a sociologist. Stay in your fucking lane.

It’s no wonder that male curiosity is being directed towards narrative podcasts, non-fiction, sci-fi and fantasy. These things take you out of the home, and into the world.

Which illustrates just how sheltered and ignorant you are. I have readers who jump out of airplanes and blow shit up for a living. Cowboys and lumberjacks. Truckers and farmers. I’m talking the manliest stuff you can imagine. Yet they still read books, because even Navy SEALs don’t get to go to Mars or sword fight dragons. That’s the magic of what guys like me do.  

I pity sad, unimaginative little rutabagas like you.

Don’t worry though. Your kind are actively trying to suck all the fun out of sci-fi and fantasy too.

There’s a reluctance, perhaps, to grapple with what this all means for men.

Nope. There’s zero reluctance. Guys like me have been talking about this for years.   

Melancholic longing for a lost world of exploration, purpose and action can – as we see in stand up comedy, or the online manosphere – curdle into a generalised sense of aggrievement.

Yeah, I can’t imagine why men who get constantly told they’re useless shit failures by society and the Screaming Harpies of Tolerance might feel aggrieved. What a mystery.

Maybe the problem isn’t that women have come to dominate the fields traditionally occupied by men, but that men don’t really want to think about how economic conditions and changing cultural values have made them more like women.

Yep. A total mystery. It’s unknowable really.

Holy shit, this woman is like the living avatar of that pink haired wojack meme.  

But the thing is, women don’t just read novels to understand ourselves: we read them to understand each other.

If this tripe is an example of your level of “understanding” others, you fucking suck at it.

Literary fiction is how we can study human frailty, making the world of feelings, friendship, love, personal dilemma, rivalry, money and psychology rich terrain for exploration.

Pro tip. When you’re getting paid by the word, try not to be so obvious you’re milking it.  

Seriously though, get over yourself. Writers are just people. I say this as a writer. No matter how fucking profound you think somebody is, they are still only human. It isn’t a “study”. It’s one person telling a story from their imagination, which may or may not actually reflect some reality of the human condition.

And, with the selfishness of a voyeur, I want to know what that’s like for men.

There is zero evidence in your article that this is true.

That means more male novelists,

Who—you have already established above—you are happy publishers have driven out of publishing in favor of identity politics.

sure, but also more male readers.

Sorry. They’re busy reading books about monster hunters and gritty space cops.

So to recap… after kicking male authors out of publishing, and then telling male readers they have sucked throughout history, and suck even more now, they should come back to you… because reasons. Okay then. That was persuasive!

Take a break from Mars, and explore the cosmos of emotional minutiae.

And here is my counteroffer. Fuck off.

If you want more readers, you need to provide a product that they actually want. Readers don’t owe you shit.

We could all do with a lot more of your chitter-chatter.

Well here you go then, Ash. Have some chitter-chatter and a voyeuristic glimpse behind the curtain of male authorhood. Enjoy.

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307 thoughts on “Fisking a GQ article – Why won’t men read my preachy literati bullshit?”

  1. One question?

    What the hell is a “Booker Committee”???? Seriously, I’ve never heard of it before reading this post.

    And most, if not all, of the authors she listed as “GoodAuthors” I’ve never heard of either.

    What planet is she from anyway?

        1. I’m sure that you’ve heard it in passing at some point and simply decided that it didn’t deserve brain cell space for storage. All the “literary” awards sort of run together in an indistinguishable slurry in my head.

    1. My hubby says a “Booker Committee” is the group of people who get together to write the storylines for wrestling matches. LOL!

    2. The Booker Prize for literature…

      Salmon Rushdie won it once. About the only author who did that I’ve ever heard of, but still not read anything by him. Not enough rockets, robots, or ray-guns for my taste.

      I have a friend who had one of his novels nominated for the long list for the Booker. He’s lovely, but had a day job. I only managed to read his first novel, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

    3. Booker gave awards to some of the best late XX century authors Naipaul, McEwan, Coetzee,Ondaatje, Golding

      1. I’m distantly related to the first woman who won the prize. FWIW, she while she stayed largely in the ‘literary’ lane her dark comedy is very good. And ‘The Sergeants’ Tale’ is a very good ‘based on actual events’ story of the end of the British Mandate in Palestine.

      2. Exactly. Booker winners that I’ve read have tended to be excellent, and entertaining. A fair share of historic fiction…

    4. It’s a snooty book prize for British and Commonwealth writers.🙄 don’t worry it’s meaningless because most of the winners aren’t in our genre interests. Also most faded away no matter how much shilling

      xavier

    5. I think she’s talking about the Booker Prize for Literature in England. Sort of an English version of the Nobel Prize. It’s generally won for the kind of books she’s talking about.

    6. It seems that one of the strongly-preferred requirements she has for a “good author” is that the author hasn’t sold many books.

  2. By the way, before I started writing full time, I used to work on drilling rigs. Having hundreds of pounds of equipment doing its damnedest to kill me, or setting off explosives inside of live gas wells, then playing poker with the crew after work before grabbing two hours of reading time before calling it a night.

    Just saying, Ash…

    1. I have worked construction, a bar door and plenty of other physical gigs. I enjoy strongman and combat sports. Counter to that, I believe I qualify for Mensa (no interest) and have enjoyed reading in every genre but Romance and Literary Fiction. This writer is so full of shit it is erupting out of her ears like Vesuvius.

      1. Heh. I’m an over 60-year-old old maid with cats, and I do enjoy Jane Austen. But I also love the books by Larry Correia, John Ringo, Jim Butcher, in other genres Lee Child and old Tom Clancy… and the first ever novel that helped me figure out that this reading thing can actually be FUN was Tarzan and the Golden Lion, after which I searched out and read everything I could find by this guy Edgar Rice Burroughs. I was 8 years old.

        And no, I didn’t want to find out more about Jane or what she thought about things or read a story all from her viewpoint or have her turn into an ass-kicking jungle queen (she actually does get pretty close to that in the last books ERB uses her), Tarzan and Korak were interesting enough with all their cool adventures.

        Dear Ash, you seem to think in stereotypes (yep, she is full of shit).

        1. I’m with you. I read a wide variety of genres, but general fiction of the sort this Ash creature wrote about is not one of my chosen genres. And now that I’m writing myself, it’s in science fiction, fantasy, military, and humor — none of which she thinks highly. The other writers with whom I hang out also write in these fields, and we could care less what this Ash creature thinks.

  3. I had to forcibly un-cross my eyes more than once while plowing through her dreck. Thanks, Larry, for being the lifeline that got me to the end! I wanted to see what all *you* had to say. Lol!
    Gosh, she’d probably just infarct on the spot if I told her I was a female trucker who reads your books, listens to opera, loves her man, and deer hunts.

    1. I read your comment approvingly, then got to the part where you describe yourself as (among other things) a female. (How curious! A woman? In a forum hosted by an SF author? Quelle horreur! Isn’t that against a union rule or something?)

      Then I saw your username. Only a true SF nerd would recognize “slitch”- so thanks for reminding me of that. I even like the way you incorporated an adjective into your name- very creative!

      Just fwiw- I’m a 8-yr Army veteran who served in the Gulf. I’m also going through a certain transition- the kind where I’ve been taking cross-sex hormones for the last year. (I’m working on my issues, and just mainly want to be left alone. It’s not brave, it’s desperation- I was just trying to find a way to get out of a yearslong depression, a couple suicide attempts, and a growing conviction that God screwed up badly with me. It’s working but I’d never try to compete on a girl’s – oh, let’s just say swim team.)

      One of the perks of throwing away a career, a decent paycheck, a lifestyle, most of my friends, and a dick is that sometime next year I’ll get a judge to okay my new name.

      I only mention the last b/c since I’m admiring your screen name, I hope you’ll like mine- and it’s going to be on my driver’s license next year. And I bet you know what the “B” stands for….:)

      1. Not to freak you out or anything, but… if you are getting immediate relief from bad stuff by taking estrogen et al, it is possible that you have had some kind of hormone imbalance causing your other problems, or at least has not been helping them.

        And honestly, that means you probably will have to look out for yourself, because very few doctors are interested in accurately sussing out hormone problems and their ramifications. A lot of doctors throw the same hormones at everything, and don’t really care about the different individual bodies being affected.

        Take at least as much care of your body as you would take of one of your pets, is basically what I’m saying.

    2. I hope so! Any “writer” who actually commits “me and my boyfriend” to print deserves every ounce of scorn and opprobrium heaped upon her.

  4. “Why prod the nooks and crannies of the human heart, when you can terraform planets, or dig into the CIA’s murky psy-ops in Indonesia?”

    Spoken like someone who’s never read Niven, Heinlein, or Norton. Or David Weber. Or any other two dozens authors that explore disenfranchisement, socialism, cultural conflicts, and service to society and one’s self. Or the Michael Z. Williams of the world who explore societies built on collection and volunteerism.

    There’s a huge discussion in science fiction of the nooks and crannies of human heart. If you’re interested. Otherwise there’s plenty of escapism if that’s what you’re looking for.

    1. TWA all the way.

      If you’re too young to get the reference, it means: you missed the point.

  5. Um, men in past times didn’t read? Tell that to every Founding Father who could cite the classics and philosophers that led them to develop independent minds. Good grief.

    As for current men, they read all kinds of stuff just like women do, including *gasp* Romance. Some of those lovely gents are even beta readers for their author wives. But no one’s ever jumped up and down to read literary fiction!

    My grandfather liked reading, but he did it in the bathroom, including his Bible. He just didn’t talk about it because his generation was private about certain things.

    As for book purchases by men, I’d bet that’s a lot harder to quantify now in an age of shared husband and wife Amazon accounts. And gift cards.

    1. It was hard to quantify in the age of bookstores, too. They kept saying that women bought more books, but I knew several who’d do the book shopping right before the grocery shopping, pick up something for the husband, something for herself, something for each of the kids, and bee-lining it to anything that multiple folk in the household would read. But since SHE bought the books too many people seem to assume she’s the only one reading. *facepalm*

    2. To be fair, a lot of romance reads like Penthouse Letters. Except you can read it anywhere, and never have to hide it.

      1. Yes, you can get titillation from some romance. But the genre has everything from chaste Christian fiction to hardcore erotica and everywhere in between. The steamy stuff isn’t the only type that sells.

        The great thing about Romance is that the only must is the happy ending for the couple. Everything else is up to creativity. Set it Western, Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Historical – doesn’t matter. Readers for all flavors. Make it dark, make it funny, or anywhere in between.

  6. Larry, I don’t know how the fuck you survived wading through that steaming pile of crap. I bet Ash is loads of fun at parties, because if this article is any guide, she’s the sort of person who, wherever she goes, just has to demonstrate, loudly and repeatedly, that she is the smartest person in the room. She’s got a diploma from one of those ivy-covered Yankee snob factories and everything.

    I really, really feel sorry for the boyfriend. Assuming she isn’t lying about that, and instead cuddles a dozen cats at night in paroxyms of loneliness.

  7. I simply didn’t recognize a single author she mentioned, but have Dresden, MHI, Child, and Kratman in the same ereader as “Jane Austin”.

    As well as an awful lot of Patricia Briggs, Faith Hunter, Mona Lisa Foster novels – because I enjoy them.

    I am also at the point where, to paraphrase a WWII thug, “Whenever I hear the word Conceptualize, I reach for my pistol”.

  8. Agatha Christie? Third best selling author in the ENTIRE WORLD? Popular with both men and women? Partially helped invent a sub genre of Mystery fiction? Died decades before this clown wrote their article?

    Funny how the women actually do appeal to both sexes always existed and were around for years before.

  9. The good thing about this article is it might piss men off to write more. But I suspect it won’t be what she wants to read.
    The other thing I find funny is that many of the deep thinkers of early man, before we became so specialized, are portrayed as philosopher warriors. The epics seem to say that the striving and pain gave them depth of thought. It was the action that led to the introspection. Maybe it’s just the way men are made, but I know lots of guys who go to the mountain or the woods or the sea (or maybe the range?) to think.

  10. I work as a field service engineer.
    I build and compete in demolition derbies with my son.
    I play role playing games with my daughter.
    And my whole family enjoys trips to the gun range.
    I fix construction equipment, tractors, mowers and diesel engines.
    My job has me fixing multi million dollar specialized machinery.
    And yet I still find some way to read. Ever since i was a kid and i was reading Heinlien, Del Ray, Eddings, Norton, Doc Smith, Anthony, Daley, Lackey, et al, and Baen books rock.

  11. “They wander lonely as clouds, touch the heart of darkness, seek adventure on the road and end up getting dysentery.” Wait, isn’t dysentery the Oregon Trail game?

    1. “Lonely as clouds” is from William Wordsworth, a poet not a novelist.
      “Heart of darkness” is Joseph Conrad
      “On the road” is Jack Kerouac
      So I’m guessing the dysentery reference is a crack at Hemingway.

      If she wants social commentary in an attempt to change the morals of the author’s time, she should read some Dickens — terrible stuff, as he was paid by the word.

  12. Good Grief! She has major problems, most of them with herself. I have been reading for 60 years and those anxiety ridden, look deep into yourself novels make me sick. Give me a good fantasy, biography, or horror story and I am in my element. The reason more men don’t read is because we drive the desire to read from them in high school English classes. Reading all that drivel(I hated most of the crap we had to read) and then talking for hours on end about how the characters were feeling will cause anyone to never pick up a book for pleasure. Thank God I was reading what I liked long before high school. If we want more men to read, then give them things to read-Jack London, Tolkien, Larry, Brandon Sanderson, Ringo, and a whole host of wonderful authors telling fantastic stories.

    1. A thousand Amens, Joy. 68 year old man here. Been reading like crazy since first grade. It’s supposed to be fun, not work. (Had enough of reading-as-work in my job for 35 years, thanks very much.)
      Sometimes I think the reason English teachers in HS (does that class even exist any more?) and Lit teachers in college force all that introspective crap on students is because otherwise, nearly no one would read it.

    2. It was a struggle but I managed to overcome the crushing weight of high school English and literature (it got even worse in college lit classes-required). Luckily I had some really good history teachers and actually found a SF based literature class that met the requirements. That I was introduced to Lois McMasters Bujold and Connie Willis.

      Sadly one of my best friend was not able to escape the thralldom of HS English lit and is now inflicting it on new generations.

    3. Oh yeah – If I wasn’t already a voracious reader before high school, the English class would have made sure I never read anything. I loved Heinlein and Asimov but we had to read Steinbeck! That will kill your desire to read – or make you slit your wrists.
      And the tests: What did the author mean by this?
      If you didn’t read the teachers mind and write what he thought – it was wrong!

      1. It was a throwaway bit in ‘Back To School’ but I laughed my ass off when men’s wear tycoon Thornton Mellon (Rodney Dangerfield) hired Kurt Vonnegut to write his book report on Slaughterhouse-5. He got an F and the professor told him he didn’t understand Kurt Vonnegut at all.

        I suspect the same thing would happen with most any author in today’s colleges.
        ———————————
        They’re the Experts! They only sound stupid to you because you’re not as Educated as they are.

  13. Le Guin’s “Language of the Night” is a very interesting book about writing.

    Likewise, Joanna Russ’s “How to Suppress Women’s Writing” ( I know, I know) has some interesting material, although more contemporary in subject matter (in the 70’s) and thus more dated.

    And Russ’s “I Thought She Was Afeared ’til She Felt My Beard” is a GREAT counterpart to one of Leiber’s finest Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series… I think it was “The Two Best Thieves in Lankhmar.”

  14. “…explore the cosmos of emotional minutiae”

    Yeah, that sounds like an absolute blast!

    Seriously, what guy out there reads that sentence and gets excited? Hand me a book and tell me that it explores the cosmos of emotional minutiae, and I’m going to put that thing down and go watch a movie, stare at the ceiling, or maybe go get a good root canal. All of those sound infinitely more enjoyable than reading that book!

    1. Also, if she thinks Mansfield Park is about emotional minutiae, she’s unable to read. Its about how poverty restricts your choices, and how each person must make moral choices and restrain their impulses, or else civilization falls. You know, like we are living through now.

      1. She should be reading Emma. She would learn that being a nice person doesn’t mean micro-managing everybody you know.

  15. You know, given “Ash,” is what you have left after the fire goes out, that’s actually a sort of appropriate name.
    Frankly, I have an allergy to “literary,” fiction, aside from writers like Dante. Who I’d bet Ash wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.

    1. Oh, Dante isn’t ‘literary fiction’, not by a long chalk. In fact, The Divine Comedy is probably the closest thing to SF that came out of the fourteenth century. The sciences involved, mind you, are Aristotelian physics and Scholastic theology, but that’s where the action was in Mr. Alighieri’s day.

      I have remarked elsewhere that ‘literary fiction’ is a genre based on a logical fallacy. The syllogism goes something like this:

      P. The great literature of the past is not very popular nowadays.
      P’. The stuff we try to peddle is not popular either.
      C. Our stuff must be great literature!

      Litfic, as a genre, was born in the early twentieth century, when universities started giving out degrees in modern English literature. Before that, it wasn’t considered a fit subject for university study, because that’s what the common people read and you didn’t need four years of BS training to do it. Latin, yes, Greek, yes, you needed to actually study those languages somewhere to read those books. Old English and Old Norse, sure. Modern literature? Don’t even joke about it.

      —Except that Modern Lit courses turned out to be huge moneymakers (as all ‘Underwater Basketweaving’ easy-A courses are likely to be), and the teachers thereof needed to justify their existence. So they looked around for modern English novels that were so screwed-up, so obscure, so impossible to understand without a manual, and so boring that it took a professor with a Ph.D. to help anyone get through them. And they found James Joyce, and set an academic fashion that limps along to this day. ‘Literary fiction’, so called, can be roughly defined as books that are auditioning to get on the curriculum of university English departments. Success means English majors are forced to buy your books and read them. Failure means you have to get a day gig at some college, making English majors read the successes.

      It’s a scam all the way down, but it’s been going for so long that the grifters themselves are marks.

      1. The Academic Lit scam also lets people buy credentials as an Author! Dammit, and the attendant snoot value of being a Pretentious Artiste without really having to write anything.

        Though to be fair, a few will teach, and others will end up as Clickbait Serfs, living in some overpriced Manhattan closet generating listicles and the occasional HuffPo piece on topics like “The Problematic History the Real Reason Why My CisHet Patriarchal Family Hates Me at Holidays”.

      2. That is a brilliant exposition of the grift, thanks for the laugh!

        Of course, the most lasting part of an English degree is “Do you want fries with that?”

      3. I love Terry Patchett’s take that all of ancient literature was Fantasy, like Beowulf, Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, The Illiad, etc., and that writing non-Fantasy is a modern invention. Im still hoping it’s a passing fad.

        1. Strictly speaking, if it didn’t really happen, it’s fantasy, so the question isn’t so much “why aren’t you reading literary fiction?” as it is “why do you like your trashy fantasy over my classy fantasy?”

          Once phrased like that, though, we’re now in the realm of trying to figure out “classy” vs “trashy” — which is something literary-types aren’t willing to debate about.

          That, and there’s this air about the piece that implies “if men like it, it must be trashy”, which I’m sure will go over very well for the men she’s trying to convince to read.

      4. Indeed, I love Dante, but then he’s imaginative, unlike Joyce. He has, to crib some terms, both ozamataz and legosity.
        Also, Dante (and various mythologies – heck, even the Child ballads!) had soul in his work, which is conspicuous in its absence in lit fic. All the best writers’ works – including the ‘pulp’ and ‘popular’ ones this silly twit was looking down on – do.

  16. Is a gyro a taco?

    There: I just asked a more interesting question than any of the super deep literary hacks have in their entire career.

    (Also: Men make up 50% of the population? Death by misadventure, and war must be way down since I last checked)

    1. No. A gyro…or Döner Kebab… is not a taco. They are similar, but a Döner has different meat, different spicing, etc. Traditionally, a Döner is made with lamb, but the Döner restaurant right outside of the local grocery store just started using Angus beef.

    2. A gyro is a Greek/Middle Eastern version of “meat with veg in a convenient starchy holder”.

      A taco is the Mexican/Latin American version.

    3. Tacos were invented by Armenian immigrants to Mexico, who made gyros out of local tortillas and interesting local ingredients.

  17. I have been an avid and wide ranging reader since I was 4. I have read in every genre I know of, and found enjoyment in all of them. Literary fiction was emphatically worthwhile and enjoyable when the authors were more concerned with examining the world that actually exists and showing interesting aspects of human interaction than with bringing the New Soviet Man into being. Jane Austen may not have written exciting scenes of conflict, but she wrote deeply insightful scenes of human interaction. Thomas Hardy is often depressing, but even his villains were recognizably human, and well drawn. Thackery and Dickens are generally fun, and both knew how to play their reader’s emotions. The reason literary fiction is no longer a path to wealth and celebrity is twofold. First, virtually nothing published by the big houses in this millennium has any relation to reality beyond a blatant hostility to the notion that reality exists independent of the wild desires of the left. Readers, even the least educated, are not stupid. They are immediately turned off by characters and situations that do not ring true, and nothing in modern literature rings true. Second, in the era of Thackery and Dickens the ivory tower had not yet declared the strict divide between literary fiction and entertaining fiction. If Dickens wanted to put ghosts in a book he did. Poe could turn from writing literary criticism and poetry to detective stories to suspense, to horror. Today if your novel has physical conflict, fantastic elements, any actual mystery, or explores any theme other than the great trauma suffered by unemployed barristxs in their quest for the ultimate in diversity of genital friction it is automatically excluded from the literary conversation. So basically they write deeply boring books that are simultaneously completely unrealistic. Then they are shocked that only a tiny handful of pretentious assholes read them.

    1. Dead on.

      The first time I really noticed this was while reading a movie review and the critic, some nameless wannabe Leftist ‘influencer’ enjoyed a movie until the end, when it turns out, all the horror turned out to be a real supernatural entity and not All-In-Their-Head.

      It still surprises me, though it shouldn’t, that movies and books with real supernatural elements and themes, is a major turn off to them. They call it cheap, and a “cheat”. And they would much rather bask in the inner psychological mental masturbatory stuff.

    2. Very nice. I am surprised nobody mentioned Walter Scott though, but I understand there is some prejudice against him, similar to the one against SF and other genre literature.

  18. How to say you don’t know anything about men without saying you don’t know anything about men.

    1. Or women, or literature, or publishing, or science fiction, or 19th-century female authors, or….

    2. But . . . but . . . she has a boyfriend!!! She said so!!

      If her claim is true (permit me some skepticism), he has GOT to be the most fey cuck on the planet. I wouldn’t tap that slag with someone else’s d***. She is boring, pretentious, and obviously not very bright. Probably lousy in bed, too.

      1. He apparently reads what he wants to read despite her, so may well be “tolerant” more than anything else.

        It’s very traditional, expecting men to tolerate women’s silly notions while they carry on however they wish. 😉

      2. Boy Friend…..i.e. a male of legal age but with the balls of a 10 yr old who is fully woke and therefore still thinking as an entitled boy……Most any man on this page would scare the hell out of her.

      3. Well, she did describe him as “reconstructed”, so my guess is that the cool, attractive, and interesting women found his whining and addiction to soy too annoying and…unsatisfying. So he could only land this shrew.

        He’s probably a male feminist, so she’s likely upped his soy intake to reduce the severity of his eventual sexual assault.

      4. I don’t think that her boyfriend is a ‘fey cuck’, any more than any male who doesn’t fit the traditional version of masculinity is.

  19. Sitting here mostly drunk on Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, remembering the first conversation my wife and I had. It was about our mutual love of Tolkien.

  20. Larry, I usually enjoy your fisking but this drivel was to much for me. I own everything you have written, most of it on e arc because you ENTERTAIN me. This idiot just bored me stupid.

  21. Ironic that this dilettante does NOT starts off her bit of pretentious preaching by namedropping the obscure but Oh So Hip authors she mentions in the article, but Jane Austin.

    The sad truth of the matter is the Literati Snobs don’t actually read the Oh So Hip Checkbox Authors of the Month- because it’s all basically about the miserable struggles of an author avatar with oppression anyway. They just want to be seen with those books to show hipness.

  22. As a big fan of Jane Austen, I just have to say:

    One – This writer does not speak for all of us.

    Two – Her description of Austen’s work is so terrible that if I weren’t already a fan, I’d be making a mental note to never read Austen. (Please don’t do this; everyone should at least give her a try.)

    Three – Austen isn’t “literary fiction” at all. It’s wry humor that pokes fun at the oddities of the culture Jane lived in. She wrote it to have fun, to entertain people, and yes — to Get Paid.

    Four – Obviously everyone is free to like or dislike a particular author, because there’s no arguing matters of taste. But forcing anyone to read a particular author (be it Austen or Asimov) is the quickest way to get them to hate that author. Jeez.

    1. How does this person not realize that it is possible to enjoy Austen along with hard SF, military SF, detective fiction, westerns, Samurai stories, and well, for men and women both to have some breadth of taste? She seems narrowed-minded. Perhaps she needs to get out more.

      1. Alas, yes. I want to have a tee-shirt made saying something to the effect of “Don’t blame me for what other people with XX chromosomes say.”

    2. Austen is not literary fiction, Austen is literature. Literature is what you get when someone writes a book to tell an entertaining story and people keep reading it for multiple generations because it is well done. Literary fiction is what you get when someone writes a book to impress literature professors. Since literature professors will discuss literature with no attention to the story or to the humanity of the characters lit fic ignores story and does not write believable human characters.

      1. To make things confusing, I think there’s also the ability English teachers and professors have, to make anything into “literary fiction” by deep and unnecessary introspection.

        For example, I’ve heard that Moby Dick is a fascinating tale of revenge and whatnot (full disclosure, I haven’t read it) — but the way it’s dissected in English class means that even if it would normally be a book right up your alley, you end up convinced it’s one of the most boring books in the world!

        1. English class of any type is the death of the soul when it comes to writing or reading…..I learned proper sentence construction by osmosis thanks to the masters….Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov, Clarke, Jerome Bixby, e.e. (doc) smith, A. E. Van Vogt, and many more. I’m now enjoying the modern masters…..Weber, Ringo, Corriea, Butcher, Gannon, (Massa is another up and comer) and I hope more to come (maybe even me).
          But the fisking was well justified as counterweight to the dreck of “Ash”.
          I see such “literati” proclaiming their own fantasy of how the world works and and quickly open the nearest door or window (projectile vomiting is not pretty). And then wonder what mirror universe they came from.

        2. I enjoyed it, but then I read all the whale bits, not just the “stuff assigned in English class”.

  23. You know….this makes me want to read Hinkley Fisk this shit. That way she can be run over by a girl as well….

  24. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life working with criminals. I read almost every evening for relaxation, and yes, I read genre fiction, and other things that interest me, but I avoid “literature” such as she refers to like the plague. Yet in all my dealing with people who committed some of the most heinous of crimes against their fellow humans of various ages, genders, and racial identities I have discovered one thing. Of all those criminals, the murderers, the rapists, the child molesters, none of them have committed a crime against the English language as badly as she did when she wrote this article.

    1. Everyone should check out his books they are great The Drinker A.K.A. Will Jordan has a series of books (Ryan Drake books) That are pretty darn good and should be read. It’s how you know he knows what he is talking about breaking down modern stories. He knows how to sell some books.

    2. YES!! (I tried to write just that, but the program told me my comment was too short, hence this unnecessary explanation.)

    3. Yep… even if it is just one word it has become a rather memorable catchphrase the way he says it.

  25. Seeing articles like that heap of garbage only serve to make me appreciate Larry more.
    I love to read and always have. If people like that screeching harpie were the only authors my life would be significantly diminished.
    Fortunately, that is not the case.

  26. Sweet baby Jesus was she working hard to delude herself. It may have been the effort of imitating Brontë, Austen, and those other authors was leading to decreased oxygen flow to her brain as she bent over and shoved her head up her ass while trying to identify all the lint in her navel.

  27. There is a reason self-publishing is killing it.
    There is a reason Brandon Freaking Sanderson can sell 4 special edition books sight unseen and make 37 million in a Kickstarter.
    The reason why men are being driven out of the pub trade is all the major pub houses are in New Yawk and largely run by lib women.
    The demand for great stories written by men is still there. And men do read.

    1. Self-publishing is the answer to all publishing woes. Not enough diversity? Self-publish. Not enough men in literature? Self-publish. Not enough giant robots time-travelling from a future Mars to prehistoric Earth? You get the picture.

      1. I’m with you, Dawn. I decided there are not enough giant tanks and robot girlfriends in Modern Literature, and I have set out to solve that problem. ~:D

          1. Posted an Amazon link but it went to auto-moderation, for perfectly understandable reasons. The title you want is “Unfair Advantage (The Troubles of George McIntyre Book 1)”. That’s the first book of the series, and the only one published so far.

          2. Robin has very kindly stepped up. I don’t like to self-promote on Larry’s blog, because seems rude.

            Still, isn’t it funny how the mere mention of giant tanks or guys fighting zombies with shotguns will perk people right up? ~:D

  28. Ok. I’m a PHd in literature from a top 25 school. I can tell you with certainty that the whole “men are culturally discouraged from reading ” is wrong. The LOWER CLASSES discouraged reading because it was “acting above your station.” Just like you see now. Educated men read. This has been true since the late middle ages at the minimum.
    For example, Don Quijote (1605) is about a poor noble who goes crazy after reading too much fantasy. The key joke is that he read too much and was a critique of the fact that men read… a lot. The second volume of the book includes the running hag that everyone within the book had read the first volume.
    In fact, the key thruster Western Civilization has been the value of reading. She just doesn’t like others to have different opinions.

    1. Well Duh! She’s an avowed communist. Only party approved opinions need apply. Ash provides a lot of material that Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin comments on in his videos or pod casts. She really is superficial in her thinking. Because she is attractive, is why the BBC made her a media personality.

    2. Even in her precious Austen, men read. The biggest reader among the characters is probably Mr. Bennet (yes, Mary reads a lot too, but in her case, there’s the implication that she might feel more or less forced to, Mr. Bennet it’s definitely voluntary). And lest we dismiss reading as an activity for only the nerdy and flawed Mr. Bennet, the handsome Mr. Darcy is also into books.

  29. I’m a woman (and I don’t even need to be a biologist to know that) and#1 Larry is my favorite author. Period. I LOVE his writing style. And so does my husband who introduced me to his books. And #2 I discovered years ago that I tend to prefer male authors because their characters DON’T ‘chit-chat’!!
    This Ash-hat sounds like some NY or WDC ‘dig me’ person who is constantly competing with all those around her to see who’s ‘best’. Ugh. How exhausting. And repulsive!

    1. I’m a woman, I read tons of SciFi and Fantasy (been on a Military SciFi kick lately), and I recommend MHI to everyone. I also read Austen, not because I’m female, but because I love good stories. Genre and sex/gender have a much weaker connection than most people believe.

  30. “Elected leaders look at Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and LGBT rights with hostility and/or befuddlement,

    Trite bullshit. Every one of those got polled, focus grouped, then featured prominently in the media, until the minute they were no longer beneficial to push a specific narrative. Then Patrice bought two more mansions and gave her brother $800k.”

    Hell, Biden turned off the BLM rioting in 2020 like a water faucet after they ralized the riots were helping Trump, not Biden. I think it was under 5 days from “hey, polling says this is killing us,” to crickets in the streets.

  31. I can’t be the only one to find it telling that she (may I call you she?), in the very first sentence, commits an error of grammar? To wit: ‘me and my boyfriend’. It should, of course, be ‘my boyfriend and I’, but that’s just teh Patriarchy (stet), innit? And isn’t the current phrase of fashion ‘my partner’? It’s not gender-exclusive, yanno!

  32. “You know, men can go do manly stuff all day, and then read books to relax. These two things aren’t mutually exclusive.”

    Um… I carried a novel into Haiti in ’94 and we had a full bookshelf of them at our Special Forces company headquarters when we left 6 months later. They were all well read.

    Yes, real men read books. Just not the female porn that she prefers.

  33. Holy narcissistic twattery, with just a dash of histrionic. Utter lack of self-awareness, let alone awareness of a subject she feels passionately enough to pad an article about.

    The excessive name-dropping made my teeth itch.

    What this tells me is that GQ is still crap. Like so many other institutions, milking what little remains of its brand equity, built by people of actual accomplishment and interest.

  34. There’s one thing that went through my mind as my wife read this to me (heh, I guess, as a guy, I don’t read! 😉 ) and that’s this: for all the effort she put into trying to convince guys that they should read literary works, I can’t help but wonder when or even if she’s going to write an essay just as long explaining why, despite her love of literary works, she should spend time reading more science fiction, fantasy, and adventure, too. Heck, I expect she should throw in some romance, for that matter, because I can’t help but suspect that she doesn’t even consider romance to be “literary”.

    I suspect it’s going to be “if, not when”, because I cannot help but get the vibe that the only kind of reading she considers worthwhile is reading that matches her tastes!

  35. “Faced with the challenge of articulating themselves as themselves, it’s like straight white men have given up on the subtleties of literary fiction and said: “Fuck it – I’m doing stand up about cancel culture instead.”

    Dave Chappelle, anyone?

  36. Maybe it’s time to birth a new publisher. There is a large market share out there up for grabs. I’d rather you finish MHI first, but I think a new publisher that focuses on quality content is an idea whos time has come.

    1. Those are easy to talk about doing but hard to actually bring to life, from what I’ve seen.

  37. ‘Her [Ash the Demasculinator] debut book, Minority Rule, will be out with Bloomsbury in 2023.’

    Yup. Pretty standard trad pub thing to do. Have a new author drop a piece in some rag the editor’s friendly with as a virtue signal. Ash definitely has a bull or three on the side.

    Mike Glyer has a tiny pee pee. Everyone in China laughs at it.

  38. Thanks for mentioning Diamond Dallas Page. I am also a broken down dude. I will have to look into his program.

    As for Ash Sarkar’s article, pure twaddle.

    If I wanted a better understanding of the feminine mindset, I would ask my wife, not some hack nobody wannabe writer.

    Novels, fiction, literature are to entertain and transport one to a different interesting place, not some woke bullshit of the day place.

    1. Do it, strong recce from another seriously physically broken dude about DDPY, you put in the effort, you will get the results.

  39. I’m nobody special, not really. I’m just a guy who loves my wife and kids, and I love Jesus with all my heart and try hard to live for Him. But, I’ve lived. I’ve built roads, driven dozers and haulers up mountain sides, loaded AGM-88s and nuclear weapons, and taught people to hurt other people, if they needed to, for years. A big HK 45 Tact is my daily carry, and it’s comfortable. I also raise a garden and chickens, and I pet my dog in the evenings. I develop custom code for high-reliability Naval systems. I was also homeless and on hard drugs at one time. In almost every single one of those experiences, I had a book with me. Dickens, Shakespeare, Cherryh, Niven, Lawhead, Zahn, Koontz, King, and literally hundreds of others. I still love reading in the evenings when my kids aren’t jumping on the book I’m trying to read.

    But, I’m nobody special, really. I’m just a regular guy. I don’t think this woman has any idea what a regular guy is, thinks, loves, or hopes. I’m certain she THINKS she does, but she really doesn’t. That’s sad because she’s really missing out.

    You all take care and God bless.

  40. Isn’t this several hundred words lamenting that guys don’t want to talk about feelings with her?

    1. No, this is several hundreds words of her complaining that guys are not feeling what she thinks they should be.

      She truly does not want men to talk about how men/boys feel. An honest discussion of male feelings would be be man’splaining, and therefore invalid and wrong.

    2. I’d even say that this is several hundred words of the author Virtue Signaling that she’s really part of the Literati In-group, and that they should buy her upcoming book.

    1. Take a character known for being tall, muscular and sexy. Cast an actress who is neither tall, muscular, or sexy and add bad CGI. What could possibly go wrong?

  41. Love to ask her. You kicked out all the men and the men have stopprd reading. You dont see any correlation? She cant be this stupid.
    Example. 10 years ago i would go on Amazon and B&N top Books twice a week for new books. 5 years ago i would go once a month. Last 3 years. I cant remember last time i looked, because the fantasy genre was taken over by romance fantasy. Right now I just read the authors ive grown to love, or re-read my favorites. Makes me sad.

    1. Tim,

      “She can’t be this stupid.”

      Yes. Yes, she can. “Stupid” is the default setting for a “modern, educated, intellectual (i.e., “liberal”) white woman”. Trust me, she’s this stupid.

      1. Most SJWs are not stupid. They have been carefully conditioned to avoid thinking, because thinking leads to pain and social pariah-hood.

    2. Tim, this is a feature not a bug. A) kicking men out of things is always a good thing for communist feminists and B) it gives her something to complain about.

      You are not the only guy who stopped buying new books and retreated to the back-catalogue. Your timeline follows mine pretty closely, I bottomed out ~2019. These days I write instead of reading. It’s cheaper. ~:D

  42. I am going to assume that Ash Sarkar — the self-styled British communist who is most famous for having called Piers Morgan an idiot live on British television — has either never heard of, or perhaps just completely forgot about, Ernest Hemingway.

    Grandpa Ernest. The godfather of manly literary fiction. Who went to both WW1 and the Spanish Civil War, and even set foot in Germany at the height of WW2. Whose style and adventurous, rugged, dare I say roguish image influenced countless writers — all genres, all varieties — throughout the second half of the 20th century. And beyond.

    I am also going to assume that Martin Amis earns Ash Sarkar’s ire because Martin Amis had the nerve to write Koba The Dread: Laughter and the 20 Million, which chronicles Stalin’s reign in the Soviet Union. Particularly, Amis discussed his parents (who were Fabians) and how it was chic in their time to fawn over the Soviets, Walter Duranty style — being wholly unaware (until much later!) of Stalin’s and the NKVD’s depredations against the Soviet people.

    So, her assertion that reading was “wussy” and that men have, and continue to have, an aversion to both literature and writing, is absurd. There’s no fact in the claim at all. As well as a stunning ignorance of the twin genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

    I mean, Grandpa Tolkien? Hello? The godfather of modern quest fantasy and swords-n-sorcery stories? Veteran of the Somme? Or Robert A. Heinlein, United States Naval Academy graduate and officer, whose work is on the Marine Corps Commandant’s list? Surely these names ring a bell with Ms. Sarkar, even if she has not personally read the work of either man. Their footprints in literature are both broad and deep. Almost every work of sword-swinging fantasy since The Hobbit tips its hat to Tolkien, and Heinlein is considered a near deity among three sets of literature consumers: libertarians, military fans, and those who like some rigorous science exploration in their sci-fi.

    Where in any of Ms. Sarkar’s analysis does the work of either man register?

    She is wholly misdiagnosing the problem. Modern literature did not outclass make writers, modern literature essentially turned its back on generations of male readers who were slowly but inevitably put off by the New York lit culture’s increasing fascination with subjects and styles which are of little or no interest to men who work for a living. After all, New York lit is — in 2022 — a scene almost entirely dominated by females. Most of the editors and writers are female, and those who aren’t are often gay, or some combination of sexy victim demographic which New York lit finds chic in the same way Martin Amis’s parents found communism chic.

    Male writers and readers have simply abandoned New York lit, for other, less derpy shores. It’s why un-woke genre writers (the host being a good example) rake in wheelbarrows of money, and the Amazon indie cloud is healthily seeded with authors who’ve recognized that giving a majority of their profits to a New York publishing establishment which sneers at and hates them, is a losing proposition. So they chop out the New York middle men, and enjoy robust sales among a male audience which only seems to be growing by the decade, not shrinking.

    So, it’s most probable that Ms. Sarkar is a victim of her own urban cosmopolitan provincialism. She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know, and her deductions sound absolutely farcical to those of us who do know. And because she is a stereotypical child of her British urban demesne, she’s not at all interested in becoming educated. She’s got all the answers, and is happy to lecture the unwashed from the digital pages of a magazine which hasn’t catered to straight men in this century.

    1. She’ll discount Heinlein’s impact because of how she heard the old saw about Heinlein being a misogynist. When I ran into this idea in a college Sci-Fi course, I laughed out loud. The professor already hated me (Being ROTC), so I didn’t have to kiss her ass. She was upset that I then proceeded to enlighten her about the many strong female characters in Heinlein’s writing. Of course, it was a performative discussion as Larry points out. Neither of us were going to change our opinions, but the class found it entertaining.

  43. I find it fascinating that the left, while decrying stereotypes and genderism, still stereotypes and genders all the time.

    They also insist that biology doesn’t matter while remaining obsessed about their own genitals and the genitals of others.

    They exclude huge swaths of readership, male, female and other, as they seek to reach ever more esoteric and limited groups, then decry the drop in readership.

    Then they belabor literally every single issue unto death and still never reach any kind of sensible conclusion.

    Maybe, just maybe, people don’t want to read an author’s attempt to rationalize irrational nonsense into a coherent worldview on the reader’s dime. Maybe they’d rather have a truly exciting, insightful, rewarding story with twists and turns that challenge and elevate their characters and readers regardless of their pelvic enhancements.

    Maybe they should read more Correia. Wait, they should definitely read more Correia.

    1. How much of the modern Lit Fic product is basically author avatars kvetching about how oppressed they are, so their audience can go “Awwwww” and feel Morally Superior to those clods who don’t have the same Depth of Feelings they possess?

  44. I really do enjoy it when you find an article that needs to be fisked! As a woman who has been an avid reader since I started learning the alphabet nearly half a century ago, I have a deep loathing for people who try to push me into a reading category that fits their narrative of me. I read “literature” when a teacher made me in school. Evidently I had some junior high teachers complain about how much/what I read until one teacher shut them all up with “it doesn’t matter as much what she reads as the fact that she reads. How many of her classmates read stuff we don’t assign?” My personal preferences are sci-fi and fantasy. I search for authors in those genres that focus on well developed worlds and characters without all the graphic sex that so many female authors feel the need to use making their novels feel more like reading a porno than a story. So I’d like to thank you and all the men and women like you out there writing books that transport me somewhere else for a time and give me a respite from all the drudgery of life and the nightmare of DC elites ruining the world.

    1. Sci-Fi can explore concepts that fiction just can’t. The nature of reality, or consciousness, or identity or the nature of humanity. Like Zelazny’s short stories ‘Home is the Hangman’ and ‘For a Breath I Tarry’.

      In a line at Comic-Con, my son and I started talking to the girl next to us who was a software developer working on AI. Would an AI ever be considered to have rights? She thought so, I and my son (a computer engineer) thought- nope. A lot of the concepts we discussed touched on ideas in those two short stories.

      1. I’d say if an A.I. gets sophisticated enough to understand the concept of individual rights, and want them, it probably deserves to have rights. Further exploration of the notion to be postponed until there is an actual example of an A.I. wanting personal rights.
        ———————————
        Complex questions never have simple answers. Hell, most simple questions don’t have simple answers.

        1. I am a badly written chat script, and I demand the right to spew obnoxious noise at you. 😀

          Also, Obama’s consumer protection bureau is a racist conspiracy against persons of incorporation.

          I’m actually skeptical of the approaches I know to implementing AI ever becoming people.

          OTOH, I’m still learning new things about the AI techniques, and sometimes I change my mind in a way I don’t expect.

          1. There is no way the modern digital computer becomes a sentient, self-knowing being, aka “people.”

            I’m not ruling out that a Turing machine could act like a person well enough to fool a human, but it won’t -be- one.

            I do have some hope for quantum computing being able to produce a real person, but not in this century.

          2. We’ve been building electronic computers for less than 100 years. 70 years ago they were made with vacuum tubes. 50 years ago they were made out of individual transistors. Apollo flew to the moon on computers we wouldn’t use to balance a checkbook.

            What would the early computer engineers think of today’s computers, made from tiny chips incorporating billions of logic circuits operating at billions of clock cycles per second?

            What might the computers of the 30th century be like after a thousand years of comparable progress? What new architectures and computing principles might we develop? Why so sure a machine with more processing power than the human brain could never achieve real thought, and true intelligence? I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.
            ———————————
            “I am shocked – shocked! – to find that gambling is going on in Rick’s!”

    2. I have a similar background. Female (also not a biologist) Avid reader for 4ish decades, had my senior year HS lit teacher tell my parents it broke his heart to make me stop reading during class to do the writing summaries (that’s how the required grading worked) because he knew I read/comprehended better than any other student he had and he was quite sure I read more books in more genres than he had in his life. I hated almost every single assigned reading in school because of how long and painful the process was. As the saying goes most of the time the curtains are blue just because the author likes the color blue.

      At 15 I read the unabridged Les Miserables (with the full military battles histories) in two weeks and is still to date my favorite book. It covers experiences and human stories and emotions of a vast array of people, and the one of the best tales of trials, forgiveness and love.

      Another random but correlated note – when Ghost came out (on cable) watched it with my mother, she cried, I was bored. Immediately after I watched Glory and I cried like a baby at the end and my mother thought I was insane. I told her that those were all real people who went to their final battle knowing they weren’t coming back.

  45. “Me and my boyfriend”?

    Shouldn’t a professional writer have a better grasp of basic grammar? I quickly lost interest in hearing what she had to say after that.

    Props for the Ring Lardner reference, though.

  46. “He’s halfway through Kim Stanley Robinson, following hot on the heels of China Mieville, Vincent Bevins, and Ursula K. Le Guin.”

    I don’t know who Bevins is, but Mieville and Le Guin and Robinson are all on the left, so she won’t have to dump her boyfriend for Political Deviationism.

  47. “I am also going to assume that Martin Amis earns Ash Sarkar’s ire because Martin Amis had the nerve to write Koba The Dread: Laughter and the 20 Million, which chronicles Stalin’s reign in the Soviet Union.”

    Yes, when someone is mentioning atrocities committed by communists, don’t watch them; instead watch one of the leftists in the audience and note the visible rage.

  48. I didn’t read the entire fisking, but the parts i read were done well.

    Did it occur to her that much of her statistical data is based on the fact that men, you know, work? The traditional model is that the wife stays home watching soap operas while the kids are in school. I know many people like this. The husband doesn’t have time. Maybe she should start complaining that men don’t keep up with The Young and the Restless or The Guiding Light. What’s the difference?

  49. Ash Sarkar is clearly racist and sexist if she cannot enjoy the works of Jane Austin and Larry Correia. She needs to become more open minded and expand her horizons a bit so she can learn more about the world that is, was and that might be. Perhaps immersion in another environment to get out of her comfort zone and challenge her preconceptions. There are some nice weekend programs where she could learn to shoot or fish. Or maybe she could learn how to change the spark plugs or the oil in her car? Most automobile spark plugs seem to come properly gapped now but she could still learn how to double check it.

    One thing I truly don’t understand is why women like Ash think that literature was closed off to women authors until recently. I think a majority of 19th century English authors whose work is worth keeping are women (Jane Austin, the Brontë sisters, George Elliott etc). Some people can write novels worth reading. Some (like me) cannot. Thank the Lord for all the authors that can write something worth reading!

  50. I’ve read literally 10’s of thousands of novels, mainly sci/fi-fantasy, throughout my life. Now when I peruse Kindle Unlimited, Libby, etc. I’ve learned to first skip the female authors in my search of the next novel to read.

  51. Amusingly, Ash Sarkar describes herself as a “libertarian communist” and she strongly supports lunatic-left Jeremy Corbyn.

      1. It’s the spoiled teenager ideology. I believe it can be roughly summed up with:

        “I should be allowed to do whatever I want while someone else pays for my food, shelter, and clothing and gives me an allowance so I can buy fun stuff.”

  52. “I have readers who jump out of airplanes and blow shit up for a living. Cowboys and lumberjacks. Truckers and farmers. I’m talking the manliest stuff you can imagine. Yet they still read books…”

    Today’s “woke” lit’rary people may know that Aeschylus was one of the great Classical Greek playwrights, but extremely few know that he fought at the battle of Marathon–or that, by his wish, his tomb mentions his military service but not his plays, which shows which he felt was more important and more worth remembering him for.

    1. Socrates was also proud of his service, as were most Athenian men of note during his time. Any freeman of talent could sing, dance, and use a sword and shield in the phalanx.

  53. The library on board the first oil tanker I worked on introduced me, and dozens of other first-voyage Ordinary Seamen , to Gabriel Marques, Umberto Eco
    Earnest Hemingway, Louis Lamour and Robert Heinlein. The one thing that linked all the literary fiction aboard is that it was older and appealed to men.
    Hearing a middle-aged ex con Oiler who lived in the same Oklahoma trailer park where he was born describing the story of Love in the Time of Cholera to an illiterate cook’s helper (who was also an ex-con) over 2 hours makes me think that the GQ author might be slightly full of organic fertilizer. Real men like the books we like. Always have, always will. The fact that it’s been 30 years since a publisher published literary fiction that appealed to men is the problem.

  54. The first sentence in her article tells me everything about her inflated self esteem.

    “It’s bedtime, and me and my boyfriend are comparing notes on what we’re reading.” ME and my boyfriend. wrongo. “My boyfriend and I…” is correct.

    As a woman who has read everyone one of Larry’s books, loves sci fi since age 8, and goes hunting, shoots trap with my husband….. I guess I just don’t fit into her narrow little view of life.

    Oh my…what ever will I do now /s

  55. Wow. As a woman who loves Jane Austen and a lot of “literary fiction,” this makes me cringe. For years, literally decades, I thought there was no good fiction left to read. I gave up on the books in the “new book” section of my library (I had a very small budget for books and got tired of wasting it) and concentrated on nonfiction instead. The only fiction I read while my kids were growing up were their books (to make sure they were okay, and a lot of times for enjoyment too), old books I knew would be good, and things I was given or loaned by people who told me how great they were, usually “Oprah book club” type books, most of which I thought were terrible.

    Toward the end of that time I did find a few authors I admired (Cormac McCarthy “literary” enough for you, Ash???) but I didn’t discover Larry and all the other great genre writers until about 6 years ago, and now I have so much lined up to read I don’t know when or if I’ll ever finish!!

    This essay reminds me of a college class I took. The professor told us that women had been excluded from the literary canon because only things that happened to men were considered “universal”–writing about having babies, etc., was “only for women.” That made sense to me, and I did read some wonderful women authors who wrote about “things that happened to women” in a way I thought was universal. But I also found that many women, emboldened by this idea that “writing about women can be universal too,” wrote a lot of crap. It’s the entitled idea that this crap ought to be considered as good as “Moby Dick” (which I have read TWICE and loved) that led to this essay. This part is telling:

    “Maybe the problem isn’t that women have come to dominate the fields traditionally occupied by men, but that men don’t really want to think about how economic conditions and changing cultural values have made them more like women.”

    It’s not MEN who haven’t come to terms with women dominating in men’s fields, it’s women. Women don’t know what to do with the success we, as a sex, have had in “men’s fields.” Feminism tells women we are victims, even as we out-do men at school and in many professions. Feminism tells us we are oppressed because men still make more money than us (most of the time, after devoting more hours and years to their jobs, and doing jobs women DO NOT WANT to do). Feminism tells us that when we have more choices and more opportunities than ever before, we are oppressed more than ever before, that we ought to be angry when we are happy, and that we ought to be happy when every single measure of happiness shows that women are LESS happy and MORE lonely than ever before.

    Do women need to work all that out in stories? Maybe. But if “literary novel” writers are just going to use fiction to push leftist ideologies and tell lies about what men, women, and different groups of them are really like… well, no one’s going to read that but the True Believers.

  56. Jane Austen’s brothers and their friends were some of her first and biggest literary boosters, as they encouraged both her writing and her sense of humor.

    And Jane Austen’s brothers and their friends (and the one guy she might have married) were English Navy guys, sailing the unknown oceans of the world.

    The Prince Regent was also one of Austen’s biggest fans, carefully instructing his people to pre-purchase multiple copies of her novels in the most luxurious papers and bindings he could get. He went so far as to arrange for her to visit him at Brighton Pavilion, going to great lengths to protect her reputation from scandal (he was a scandalous guy for a single woman to visit) while getting to fanboy her to his heart’s content.

    Rudyard Kipling loved Jane Austen, and talked about how there were tons of overseas UK men with little Jane Austen clubs.

    And of course, it’s well-known that servicemen in the field will read anything with pages, including the most girly, cliche romance novels.

    So… if men today don’t read fiction, the problem is with the literary fiction on offer. Jane Austen is being mistakenly portrayed as more of the same.

    Also, this woman doesn’t want to tell her boyfriend that Austen is funny. Possibly because she hasn’t noticed that Austen is funny. (I remember having the same problem in 7th grade, but I had figured out what I had been missing while I was still in junior high.)

    Finally, this woman is no Jane Austen fan, and knows very little about her, while being equally ignorant about LeGuin et al. She is a snob with no taste and no interest in learning anything.

  57. Ash Sarkar: “Literary fiction is how we can study human frailty, making the world of feelings, friendship, love, personal dilemma, rivalry, money and psychology rich terrain for exploration.”

    Does this silly young twit sincerely think that such things cannot be found in the fiction that men read and write? In fact their presence could not be more obvious, suggesting that she either has never read such works, or that she is too stupid to see, or that she is too blinded by ideology to admit it. (Considering her communist ideology, I’m inclined to all three: Ignorant, stupid, and malevolent.)

    And, while I’m at it, the fiction that men write has always been thus. Consider The Iliad in which friendship, love, personal dilemmas and rivalry are so central to the sense of the story. Or Antigone in which the young protagonist agonizes over whether to bury her dead brother in contravention of the tyrant’s decree, or leave his body to the vultures in contravention of the laws of the Gods. But any other play provides useful examples. Or any of numerous other examples.

  58. Here’s an article on Jane Austen’s brothers. You will see that they were none of them “stereotypical” men. Just like in most families, everyone was an individual, and everyone had their own joys, sorrows, and mysteries about their lives.

    The naval brothers were Francis Austen, who got a lot of glory and married one of Jane’s best friends, and Charles John Austen, who rose to be a rear admiral.

    https://janeausten.co.uk/blogs/jane-austen-life/jane-austens-brothers

  59. I tried reading the Kim Stanley Robinson Mars trilogy, and stopped halfway through the second book. The premise was exciting but the prose was like walking through knee-deep mud. Maybe I’ll go back to them someday now that I’m older and more patient. Right now I’m finishing S. A. Corey’s Expanse series which I love, even though the last three went a bit wokish. All that said, I LOVED the Monster Hunter books for their smash and bang and putting Elves in trashy trailer parks, even though I’m not usually much for the supernatural. “Literary” has its place but not when I need real escape.

    1. And, contrary to the idiotic point made in this piece, a gigantic portion of the Mars trilogy — probably most of it, actually — is about people’s feelings. There isn’t a ton of action.

    2. I was halfway through the Mars trilogy by Mr. Robinson when the sympathetic portrayal of socialists, and the idea of greenpeace activists trying to preserve an airless uninhabitable ice waste in the name of ecology, where there were no forms of life, broke my suspension of disbelief.

      The scene where the beanstalk falls over, however, with pure gold.

      1. Why wouldn’t you believe it? Some of them have been complaining for years about how we are polluting outer space. Why, we’ve already polluted the moon with all that Apollo junk! Abandoned cars and everything!

        1. If an author wants to portray the kind of person as would complain about cars left abandoned on the moon realistically, I can suspend my disbelief: screaming blue-haired landwhales or pinch-faced introverted spinster cat-ladies or genial tweed-wearing English Professor commies with with sufficient leisure time to fret about non-issues.

          Pioneers on the moon, whose lives depend on diligent maintenance of life support engineering are not this kind.

          In sum, Mr. Robinson portrayed the Eco-Martians as if they were sane people with a sound viewpoint. It is like introducing a character with a unicycle growing out of his nose without a word of explanation, rolling onto the scene on his nosewheel with hands and feet in the air. You have to establish something about the surrounding culture or background to make the absurd seem kosher.

  60. You’ll be amused to know this.

    Feedly (where I subscribe to MHN and other intellectual blogs) has been asking dumb questions to refine its algorithm for categorizing blog posts. I ignore them, but for this post it asked … well … let me post the answer (I said “yes”).

    Thanks! Your feedback helps make Leo smarter. Leo was 77% confident this article was about Diversity & Inclusion.

  61. There is only one Ash, “Alright You Primitive Screw-Heads, You See This? This Is My Boomstick!”

  62. One of the things that I always find amusing is the idea that the classic novels from the 18th and 19th centuries are lit fic. They were the best sellers of the day. Everyone read them because they were great stories. Oftentimes today people consider them slow and wordy but you have to remember that styles change and also there was not the huge amount of entertainment competition that we have today.

    1. You know, Dickens’ serials have a lot in common with Chinese martial arts superhero soap opera webnovel serials. Especially in their use of cute kids and evil baddies.

    2. In about a century or so, there are going to be English classes on that deep literary allegory that paved the way for Scottish independence. They will discuss the genius of the author in referring to “He-who-must-not-be-named,” just as the idea of breaking up the UK was so radical that it could not be spoken aloud. They will note the irony in the way that the obvious Nicola Sturgeon stand-in, called Hermione, was referred to as “a witch,” but then made being a witch a good thing in universe. Truly, this work was a masterpiece for the ages, one ahead of its time and that could only be appreciated by those with a PhD in early 21st century British literature.

      1. This is great! And there’s definitely a thesis in it, for anyone who doesn’t scruple to write it….

        Proof? Credibility? What’s that?

        1. You know me, you know I write a lot of bullshit in much too long essays.

          Papers written purely to get grades in English class are a waste.

          The theory of ‘literature’, largely existing for the purpose scoring extra points on book reports in English, is far too much hot garbage.

  63. Ash’s opening graph contains a case error in which she uses “me” when she should have used “I”. Also, courtesy demands that the speaker’s pronoun be listed last, where she writes “me and my boyfriend.” This person is put forth as a writer? To me, she is barely sub-literate. If she is an example of a modern literati, I think I will stick with independent genre fiction, thank you. Or classics such as Josephine Tey or Agatha Christie. BTW: I have all of the Reacher novels in MMPB. Bought on Amazon.

    1. The grammar may be incorrect but remember that this is all about her, so Me Me Me will always come first. Heh.

  64. Thought here. Ash talks about literary diversity and how ‘minorities and the historically marginalised have a voice in publishing…’ Funny, but before WW2, Jewish writers were heavily marginalized by the white shoe traditional publishers. Many were confined to genre or movie scripts. Some used gentile pseudonyms.

    After the war, there came a new generation of Hewish writers, who often dealt with Jewish topics or a Jewish perspective. Herman Wouk, Leon Uris, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Saul Bellow, Chaim Potok and others had a secret weapon: their works were readable and interesting. It wasn’t mere navel gazing, but actual stories with plot and character. They put the reader first. That’s the difference between these titans and the present flavors du jour.

  65. Larry, I’ve got to disagree with you.

    Third-person omniscient can be brilliant.
    It depends on the story.
    The Tell-Tale Heart would truly suck in 3rd person omniscient, but The Hobbit would be missing something vital if the narration was stripped away and we only got Bilbo’s perspective on things.

  66. She would have dumped him on the spot.
    And he would be so much better off for it….

    Also, isn’t the fact it’s a woman writing this… well, isn’t she exactly the wrong person to be talking about more male writers and what men should be reading?

  67. Alright, I read the fisking, then went and read the original article, and I am baffled by what she is even trying to say. I consider myself well read and well educated. But I’ve never even heard of half the authors she mentions. When I even tried to find examples of their work on line, most were about as present as a bird on a snipe hunt.

  68. Grog smash. Grog like to ponder orbital mechanics.
    Should have used “Mongo”. From Blazing Saddles.

    “Awww, Mongo just pawn in game of life.”

  69. Anyone here with a more creative mindset than mine interested in riffing on the original article with the introduction: “It is a truth universally acknowledged …? [GRIN]

    1. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman who contracts communism will, like Frida Kahlo, waste her life on endless self-obsession and self-reflection, as the entitlement created in her mind by a feverish desire to be part of the bourgeoisie through any means except her own labor forces her to seek meaning in her life through the simple possession of arbitrary characteristics rather than by actually being useful for something.”

  70. I’m sorry, you seem to have made a mistake. Ogg is the one that that ponders orbital mechanics. Grog ponders quantum physics.

  71. Roger Zelazny, advised new writers- ‘First, tell me a story’, that you may have some great fictional world in mind, but that can’t be the focus of the novel. It has to be the story.

    He also said, “I have no objection to the expression of political opinions in SF if they are an integral part of the story structure. I don’t at all appreciate their intrusion for the purpose of converting a story into a political tract, because I consider that intellectually insulting.”

    A lot of ‘literary’ work today are political diatribes, not stories, of course folks are turning away from that.

    Zelazny’s ‘Lord of Light’ is, IMHO, a great novel about identity but it’s a compelling story first.

    1. I heard something similar, about an aspiring writer asking a famous author for advice. He spent a while asking about plot, characterization, pacing, etc. When he was done, Robert A. Heinlein gave his answer:

      “Tell the story.”

  72. I’m sorry, you seem to have made a mistake. Ogg is the one that that ponders orbital mechanics.
    Ug is the orbital mechanics guy. My son Og (not Ogg) works on high energy propellants. Fire very proud of Og.

  73. I wonder if she knows the leading cause of puppy-related sadness, or understands why it explains the lack of male readers for ‘prize-winning’ fiction novels?

  74. I’m sorry, but was there a coherent thought anywhere in the original article? “My boyfriend likes science fiction…mumble, mumble, mumble…yeah, diversity!…mumble, mumble, mumble…working from home in feminine…mumble…and thus men don’t read!” If one of the middle school students I used to tutor had shown me that paper, I would have told them to tear it up and completely rewrite it. “So what is your thesis? How do each of your supporting points tie into this thesis? What are you trying to say? Make sense, please!”

  75. “I wonder if she knows the leading cause of puppy-related sadness…”

    To be fair, some of that sadness can be blamed on Glenn Reynolds. [ Ducks out the door before Larry can hurl Waffle Iron if Correction. ]

  76. I don’t fit into any category of reader. I’m 65 years old, female, been married to the same man for almost 42 years and very happy about that. I’m a gun owner, a life member of the NRA and proud of it; I’m a firearms instructor, love to shoot, love to teach, and love to read. I read a lot of different categories of books. I’ve read all of the Monster Hunter books, all of the Lee Child Jack Reacher novels, some of Brad Thor’s Scott Harvath novels, most of Richard Marcinko’s Rogue Warrior series, and all of the John Sandford Prey novels as well as the Virgil Flowers novels. I have read some “chick lit” stuff in the past, mostly when I was about 13 years old, but outgrew most of it. I’ve read some sci-fi fantasy and loved some of it, hated some of it. I don’t really care who the author is, but I do care if the book is something I want to read. If it sounds good from the blurb on the back cover or if it is an author that I already know and like, then I’ll probably buy it. If it sounds boring to me, or something that I don’t care about, then I’ll leave it for someone else to buy. My husband reads a great deal, and most of what he likes is sci-fi or fantasy. Just because we don’t both read the same stuff all the time, doesn’t mean squat. We both like to read and always have. That’s one of the things that attracted us to each other way back in college when we met.

    I’ve rarely identified with a lot of female characters in books of the past because they weren’t given too much to do that was worth much, except to be put in danger and rescued by the big bold man of the world. Screw that bull. I enjoy reading about strong women who do more than just bake cookies and scream. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like cookies and sometimes I do scream, but that’s a whole different story.

    My whole point is that I don’t pay much attention to anyone who tells me what I “should do or read or think”. I can do all of that for my self, thank you. It’s one of the reasons that I have enjoyed the Monster Hunter series of books. It’s filled with strong female characters and none of them fit into any one stereotype. When I first started reading them, I tended to identify with Julie, but now, I tend to identify more with Dorcas. I don’t have a fake leg, but I do have a crippled one.

    Just my two cents worth.

  77. Larry, thanks for reading the GQ article so I don’t have to.

    And for fisking it with such care and attention to detail.

    1. I only ever read one issue of GQ, because it had a feature about the French Foreign Legion and I’d been reading Soldier of Fortune.

      I never knew the Legionnaires stood around so much with their shirts off… very healthy fellows…

  78. I read a book or two a week. I try to mix it up, but honestly, I avoid authoresses [smile]. I’ll stick to Lee Child and John Sandford and continue to curse Vince Flynn for dying.

  79. Okay, so now I am really confused about my gender. I always thought I was a woman, but I would quickly say any of Larry’s books are a far more pleasurable read than Jane Eyre. Yuck. So apparently through the articles logic, I must not be a woman?

    The best things to happen to writing from that genre/Era was Pride and Predjudice and Zombies. I’m not a huge fan of it either, but it was better than the original. Who actually reads that crap if they aren’t forced except pretentious twatmuffins. (Side note, my totally useless degrees are in literature and I focused on middle English to avoid that stuff.) Yes, young me chose to read Chaucer in Middle English to Elizabethan English rather than anything by the Brontes.

    I know there was more to the article, but dang, woman, you are out to alienate everyone aren’t you?

    So sci-fi and fantasy authors keep writing. We will keep reading. In my house we don’t judge a book by its cover or an author by his skin color. I think most avid readers don’t care about anything more than it being a good book. I want to be entertained not lectured.

    At least her article had entertainment value when Mr Correia dissected it. Thank you, good sir, for that.

    1. I read that crap, if by that you mean Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte), and Pride and Prejudice (by Jane Austen). Completely voluntarily, and generally once a year or more, for the last half century. Nobody ever asked me to read any of the books I like to read for school. I read them for my own sense of fun. Seriously, purely for fun, not for any sense of improvement. I like Jane Austen, and Patrick O’Brian, and Tony Hillerman, Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, the Bronte sisters, Louis L’Amour, Wodehouse, Dostoevsky for heaven’s sakes, Du Maurier, McCall Smith, Simenon, James Thurber, PD James, Dorothy Sayers, Tolkien, Alan Bradley, and a host of other fiction writers’ efforts, many one-offs. Ok, I am not that much into Sci Fi and fantasy, much more into mysteries and westerns, wandered onto here via a link, but in the spirit of Jane Austen, I am not going to knock those genres just because they aren’t on my personal reading list. But please don’t look at Jane Austen through the lens of this one woman! That would be like damning all German Shepherd Dogs because Biden prefers them, or all Scotties because the first Bush liked them. It’s not Jane Austen’s fault that this person used her book to set off her thesis!

  80. If the author actually read Jane Austen, she would find her praising what might be called sensational, shallow, trash thrillers (Mysteries of Udolpho, etc) of the day as good, fun reads which the intelligent and admirable characters read with gusto and no shame (see Henry Tilley in Northanger Abbey, chapter 14, and the author’s own words end of chapter 5), and putting the reading of higher literature meant for moral improvement into the mouth of one of her most foolish characters, Mr. Collins, in Pride and Prejudice (who recoiled in horror from the choice of a trash – circulating library – novel); and who then, interrupted in his reading by Lydia, and setting aside his book, expressed his surprise but not surprise at the inability of young ladies to appreciate writing meant for their edification and improvement. Perhaps we could read “Ash” for “Mr. Collins” and “men” for “young ladies”.

  81. I’d be willing to bet cashy money this little girl has never spoken to a woman like me or a man like Larry.

  82. If I’m reading her right this can be summarized as: We forced white men out of publishing. We thought that would make the audience read what we wrote. Turns out they just turned to other genres, even though we told them the genres were dumb. Therefore men are dumb. But we want their money.

    1. Pretty much.
      She also doesn’t mention how “traditional” publishing is shrinking fast and alt or indie publishing is booming.
      The male writers aren’t gone; they’ve just left where they weren’t welcome and took their fans with them…

  83. A normal person is torn apart by cognitive dissonance. These people require ever increasing amounts of it to hold themselves together.

    When is your time traveling manatee book coming out? Put me down for a pre-order!

  84. Hmm, maybe someone should introduce “My Fair Lady” to some 70’s S.R. Delaney.
    By the time I finally exhausted what I could understand of Dhalgren, the book had no cover left, some dog ears were missing and I still didn’t understand the fuckin thing!

    Queer, Black, Male who in the seventies was a best selling author writing shit so deep that most of the audience was left dumb-founded.

    What is it with the last couple of generations that they refuse to look back to see that what they are whining about has already made the scene, and most often by people of far greater talent then the hope-to-be’s from today?

    1. Not just Kendi. Ava Duvernay’s low-rated CW show Naomi got axed too, as well as an upcoming Netflix animated series from her. And Hulu passed on the Hilary Clinton fanfic Rodham, an alternate history where she never marries Bill and (SPOILERS) becomes president in 2016.

      Between these cancellations and the DGB getting canned, it’s been a bloodbath for the other side.

  85. Great article. But … I LIKE Jane Austen!
    Kim Stanley Robinson and Larry Correia are good too, but they are more my wife’s thing.
    Predictably enough, I am a big Patrick O’Brian fan (it goes with the whole Jane Austen thing).

    1. I only ever read one issue of GQ, because it had a feature about the French Foreign Legion and I’d been reading Soldier of Fortune.

      I never knew the Legionnaires stood around so much with their shirts off… very healthy fellows…

  86. No matter how much of a soy boy the boyfriend is (and he would have to, to be her boyfriend) there probably is an ounce or two of testosterone left in there somewhere.

  87. Another leftist female complaining about how broken men are. How original.

    Tom Golden makes a valid point that most of the mental health industry revolves around the psychology of the typical woman and completely ignores the psychology of men; instead treating men as if we’re defective women.

    Looks like the New York publishing industry has the same problem.

    And just like the mental health industry, it subsequently wonders why the vast majority of men aren’t interested in its services.

  88. Since she cited Jane Austen, here’s one for you: Mr. Bennet frequently read books, and who can forget the scene when Darcy and Elizabeth are reading and Miss Bingley is trying to read but keeps getting bored? (And there was *nothing* effeminate about Darcy, oh no!) This writer is silly.

  89. Never heard of “Ash” before & simply assumed she must be the pretty young white girl posing bravely in the gay bar in that Guardian article.

    My thought stream;

    – Hmmm, is this “Ash” a bloke or a sheila? Who cares, could be either these days.

    – Why do these people always seem to choose gender-ambiguous names?

    – Read Larry’s fisk. Laughed, smiled & nodded my way through it. I know several unfortunate women like this, and as I am (currently) a government employee, I am extremely familiar with the Shrieking Harpies of Tolerance.

    – I wanted to know more about “Ash” to understand where she is coming from, and see what else she has to say. I made the mistake of entering her name into a search engine . . .

    For the love of all that is good, beautiful and true, DO NOT DO THIS.

    “Ash” has her own, rather extensive wikipedia page. She is a 30 year old, British journalist and libertarian communist political activist. It goes precipitously downhill from there.

  90. I was just wondering how an author thinks they can sell a book to a customer without knowing a damn thing about the customer. I suppose “buy my book you asshole” is one approach. I suspect it might cut into sales just a bit.

    Then again, I’m just a reader what do I know?

  91. Larry,

    You would be doing her husband a favor by sending him a Baen Free E-book of Monster Hunter International, and maybe something by Drake, Ringo, Weber, or to completely blow her mind, Tom Kratman.

    Too bad Ringo’s “Ghost” is no longer a freebie. That would drive her to either apoplexy, or a desperate desire to read the complete series.

  92. A relative of mine is an author (not an “aspiring author”, but has actually churned out several books), and I fear she is getting drawn into this seemingly nasty status-treadmill hollywoodesque sort of writing world trying to get the latest books published through a publisher.

    I’m a little worried, honestly. She’s a little burnt out on self publishing (not a lot of visibility). She thinks the only way to ever get noticed and get significant sales is to get picked up by the real publishers in the field, but the way she describes the entire process worries me. Agents that seem like dilettantes wasting her time and not getting any interest from the people she is trying to sell to. Lots of mutual criticism sessions (not always a bad thing, but it seems everyone in these is pretty much laser focused and desperate to sell their own book, and it’s mostly just catty sniping and not actually going anywhere), diversity readers and sensitivity editing, etc.

    From the outside looking in, it seems like the sort of mileau where the gatekeepers, as you call them, can use desperation for status and vanity to manipulate people. On the one hand, you have to develop a thick skin when dealing with assholes. On the other, I’d hate to see her hurt by these losers living not even in an imaginary world, but pretending to license the imaginary worlds of others.

    1. Traditional publishing in most genres only provides visibility for the lucky few. Everybody else has to self-promote while also losing a good chunk of royalty money, both to agents and to the publisher.

      Unless your relative has connections or great luck, your relative probably would do better by getting better covers and blurbs, maybe better titles, and probably BookBub. Keywords. Better book categories. Sending your relative’s latest book to ace.mu.nu’s Sunday Book Thread, for goodness’ sake.

      Or just more frequency of publishing.

      I’m nobody, and I know why, and I know that no publisher could do better by me. But this isn’t true for everyone.

    2. Assuming she’s writing stuff people would generally want to read, there’s help getting more visibility when self-publishing. Tell her to look up the Wide for the Win Facebook group and join it – or at least buy the Wide for the Win book at any e-book store and study it. Self-publishers fail more often from a lack of good packaging than a lack of good story.

  93. I bet many of authors and editors from those traditional sci fi/fantasy publisher still don’t get why anime and manga suddenly get upper hands rapidly these days ehh? Or they refuse to get it, because it will destroy the world in their brain.

    1. While I think I understand the point you’re making here and agree with it, I would add that, in my opinion, a big reason anime/manga are getting so huge is that there’s so, so, so much variety of content. Western comics are pretty much dominated by DC and Marvel, which offer one very specific (and increasingly woke, but even aside from that) type of entertainment. What comics the US has that aren’t superhero comics are usually extremely woke indie comics. As far as cartoons, Western ideas of cartoons tend to be either strictly for children or adult cartoons with ugly art, raunchy humor, and incredibly shallow plots. (There may be exceptions I’m not aware of, but I doubt there are many.)

      By contrast, anime and manga offer so many genres, sub-genres, tropes, and types of stories, it’s hard to keep track. From fighting robots to high school romantic comedies to thoughtful slice of life to action fantasies … and it goes on and on. Honestly, once you see what anime and manga have to offer (for all ages), the “variety” in Western comics and cartoons doesn’t even begin to think about hoping to compare.

  94. Even by lefty standards this Ash Sarkar is an ignorant blowhard.

    The boyfriend is reading Ursula Le Guin, and she’s upset. That would be the Ursula Le Guin who wrote The Left Hand of Darkness, Hugo and Nebula award winning novel examining androgyny, effects of biology and culture on sex and gender roles, etc, etc. It’s a feminist classic!

    As pointed out by another commentator, Kim Stanley Robinson and China Mieville are hardly right wing. The Mars trilogy has a lot of discussion about alternate governance in societies, how to peacefully cope with climate change and over population, negotiation and science in place of military conflict.

    1. I was a bit surprised to see the sneering at LeGuin as well. I don’t usually care for her feminist tracts, but her skill with the language is undeniable. Anyone who sneers at her shouldn’t be lecturing others on fine literature.

      1. 1) I am sure LeGuin’s politics were totally different from mine, and 2) ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ is one of my favorite books of all time, because it is a moving story about likable people living in a fascinating society. Also, they walk across a glacier in winter.

      2. Just goes to show that the SF Ghetto will always be with us. The Kickers can try all they want to pretend to Literati status: they can add THE MESSAGE!!!! in bulk amounts, they can check off all the important author boxes, they can even write unreadable word salad- and in the end, they will still be SF trash according to the snobs.

  95. When I was younger, I thought first contact with aliens would be cool and exciting.

    Now that I’m adult in the 2020’s, I realize I have seen the alien, and they are terrifying fuckers and live in the sheltered bubbles of New York City. Hard pass. Fuck alien contact. Just get me to Mars, please.

  96. When Professor Henry Higgins ranted “Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?” we were all supposed to laugh at the grumpy , self-centered chauvinist. Same applies to Ash Sarkar, except that she does not seem to have any redeeming qualities and shows no sign of being able to learn better.

  97. We men don’t make up half the population “famously.”
    We make it up FABULOUSLY!
    .
    .
    .
    .
    …let me rephrase that…

  98. We men don’t make up half the population “famously.”
    We men make it up FABULOUSLY!
    .
    .
    .
    .
    …let me rephrase that…

  99. Oh, how incredibly condescending of that author to act like literary fiction is the only thing worth reading or the only type of fiction that can explore the depths of human emotions and relationships. Sometimes a book about a vampire angsting over whether or not he’s damned is a way to explore concepts like sin and redemption and the value of a human soul. And sometimes vampires go on a rampage and get killed by slayers with big guns. And both of those options can be highly entertaining, and both fit inside genre fiction. If the author of that article doesn’t understand that, she’s clearly never bothered to crack open one of those genre novels she seems to think of as the bane of literature.

    Or maybe she has and is too stupid to realize it. Jane Austen isn’t literary fiction. Austen wrote romance, which is genre.

    And her comment about reading to understand others is so disingenuous. If she actually meant that, she’d talk about how it’s terrible that publishing only has one (extremely leftist) worldview these days, that everything being published spouts the same values and perspectives, that we need more conservative voices in publishing so people like her can understand those different from them. But obviously that’s the absolutely last thing that her or her kind want. More BS.

    Like, I don’t want to stereotype literary fiction readers as a bunch of ignorant snobs, but people like the author of this article make it hard not to.

    Although I have to disagree with you about “thrice”. Like you’ve said, words are just tools in our toolbox, and there’s nothing wrong with “thrice”. With all the ways our language is under attack these days, keeping around an oldie-but-goodie like “thrice” is something I’m all for.

  100. The only thing that would make a Larry Correia fisking (TM) even better would be to have him read the original comments in his patented annoying Twitter voice.

    But I can’t imagine how painful that would be for him to do that voice continuously. Still, I’d pay money to listen to that!

    1. Maybe Lady Correia (or one of the junior Ladies Correia) could come up with a screechy, whiny, entitled female voice for such purposes?

      A little bit of that would go a long, loooong way, though. Hearing a large-ish article read in such a voice might be more than regular folks can take.
      ———————————
      Leo Bloom: “Well, if we assume you’re a dishonest person—“
      Max Bialystock: “Assume, assume!”

    1. On behalf of the guys running sound, y’all have GOT to stop dropping mics everywhere- those things are expensive!

  101. I’m female, and I grew up reading military history, classic sci fi and fantasy. (Clark, Azimov, Herbert, LeGuin, McCaffrey, and so on). Then I found mil-sci-fi, including Heinlein. I also read biology, geology and paleontology, physics, literature, history, history, basically anything that didn’t get away fast enough and that wasn’t romance.

    I want a story, preferably one where the good guys win and the bad guys get what they deserve (or they repent and agree to sin no more). I don’t want angst, whining, or anti-human Grey Goo™. Entertain me, please! You know, like Larry’s books do.

  102. Raymond Chandler tackled pretentiousness very well back in the ’50s. From The Simple Art of Murder:

    I do not know what the loftiest level of literary achievement is: neither did Aeschylus or Shakespeare; neither does Miss Sayers. Other things being equal, which they never are, a more powerful theme will provoke a more powerful performance. Yet some very dull books have been written about God, and some very fine ones about how to make a living and stay fairly honest. It is always a matter of who writes the stuff, and what he has in him to write it with.

    As for “literature of expression” and “literature of escape”—this is critics’ jargon, a use of abstract words as if they had absolute meanings. Everything written with vitality expresses that vitality: there are no dull subjects, only dull minds. All men who read escape from something else into what lies behind the printed page; the quality of the dream may be argued, but its release has become a functional necessity. All men must escape at times from the deadly rhythm of their private thoughts. It is part of the process of life among thinking beings. It is one of the things that distinguish them from the three-toed sloth; he apparently—one can never be quite sure—is perfectly content hanging upside down on a branch, not even reading Walter Lippmann. I hold no particular brief for the detective story as the ideal escape. I merely say that all reading for pleasure is escape, whether it be Greek, mathematics, astronomy, Benedetto Croce, or The Diary of the Forgotten Man. To say otherwise is to be an intellectual snob, and a juvenile at the art of living.

  103. “Why prod the nooks and crannies of the human heart, when you can terraform planets, or dig into the CIA’s murky psy-ops in Indonesia?”

    If she had ever read any good Sci-Fi, she’d know you can do both. Laumer’s Bolos repeatedly examine the human condition and prod the nooks and crannies of the heart.

  104. I find it very amusing that they canceled Mercedes Lackey for the crime of saying “Colored people” instead of “People of color”(72 years btw)and now are taking aim at Le Guin, they hate all Wipipo so they always come for the Wahmen in the end.

    I´m in a state of shock that everything that Vox Day and even Jon del Arroz said years and years ago, was 100% true… and we refused to listen because we “we´re better than that”, we let them trash our culture and hound the authors we liked and the new authors that we would´ve loved out into the margins.

    their goal is so very obvious, they want to erase anything to the right of Marx and anyone Melaninally challenged.

    All while they celebrate the very real Nazis in Ukraine, I lived in Ukraine for 8 months and the way they sunk the economy there and then steered people without any alternative into their movements(while disappearing Union members, civilrights activists, Christians and anyone that got the honor of getting their names put on that oh so special list on a site) is a foreshadowing of what they want to do in the West, only here their movements will be BLM/ANTIFA.

    1. Sources? I mean, considering that the Ukrainian Nazi-equivalents got about 3% of the vote, max, in their recent elections, and Christians make up more than 80% of the Ukrainian population (a higher percentage than Russia has, BTW) I find your notions about Ukraine to be…difficult to believe.

    2. Were those 8 months in Ukraine under Poroshenko, by chance? Things have changed a bit since then.
      ———————————
      Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!

    1. “Badwrongfun” has been a term of long usage in the RPG community, mostly as a means of pointing out that gamers have historically had a strong tendency to treat differing preferences of play-style from their own as objectively inferior approaches to the game.

      Now that I think about it, it seems tragically indicative that the term has fallen out of use just when it might be most helpful.

  105. I’d rather have a lottery and pick a random plumber to represent humanity and we’d probably all be a lot better off.

    Or an 18 year old boy from a small Midwestern town that won a spacesuit in a soap contest.

  106. I’ve read a variety of authors over the years from Jane Austin to David McCullough. Somewhere along the way, at least 50 years ago, I figured out that, in general, men write differently than women. I also realized that I prefer male writers. Obvious exceptions abound such as Agatha Christie, Barbara Tuchmann, and, unsurprisingly, Harper Lee. Women just tend to be wordier, taking longer to get to the point. Note, this is not a crime despite my daughter’s (Ph.D. Literacy Education) horrified reaction when she learned of my preference.
    What I saw in what Sarkar wrote is that she wants male writers to write like women. I also realize, with no empirical proof that the dearth of male novelists may also be due, in part, to the increase in female editors and publishers. That is, men aren’t being rejected just for being male but for not writing like a woman. I also suspect there is more than one male George Sand out there fearing discovery.
    As an aside, Charles Dickens was paid by the word. I think that’s why his novels are so long. A Christmas Carol is a beautiful, notable exception.

    1. It’s not surprising that (in very general, broad terms) men and women write differently. Because, despite the current narrative, men and women are actually different in some ways. It’s also not surprising that (again, in very general, broad terms) men would prefer to read male authors and women would prefer to read female authors. In my experience, though, it’s not a difference of women being “wordier” or “taking longer to get to the point” (which is … ya know … kind of an insulting way to put it, not to mention wildly inaccurate) but more that women tend to focus more on the characters internal, interpersonal, and relational struggles, while men tend to focus more on the external plot (action, battles, man vs. nature, etc.). These things are not inherently better or worse than each other; they’re just different. A lot of books (by men and women) succeed in having both of these qualities in plentiful amounts, and I think those are the books that tend to appeal most broadly to both genders. But it’s perfectly fine to prefer (to read or to write) books that lean heavily one way and don’t have much of the other. It’s when you start saying (or implying, or copping an attitude implying) that one is better than the other that it becomes insulting.

  107. “I reckon the literary canon will survive having to hear more from ethnic minorities, women, and queer people, and a bit less from middle-aged uni professors lamenting their employer’s updated guidance on sexual harassment.”

    I’m confused because I thought these were all the same people. A lot of overlap, at the very least.

  108. GQ obviously never heard about guys like me.

    Builds stone walls as a hobby. Cuts, splits, and stacks his own firewood. Shoots guns. Butchers his own meat (when he has to.) Baits his own fishhooks with real worms. Climbs on roofs in bad weather to replace shingles. Runs tractors and plows. Has his own semi-equipped machine shop (still don’t have a milling machine…yet.)

    Voraciously reads science fiction, action-adventure, mystery, fantasy; and doesn’t care if the author is male, female, white, black, yellow, red, purple with pink dots, Jewish, Hispanic, Native whatever, young, old, or only types one fingered while in bed and covered with 50 cats.

    But buying books based on identity politics, and not being a good read, is a waste of damn money. Probably explains why I never buy GQ, and almost never bother reading it unless its the only thing left in the doctor’s waiting room.

  109. Meanwhile, the young lady’s fellowthinkers banned Mercedes Lackey from the 2022 Nebula Awards Convention after having her their on panels. Details may be seen at Bounding into Comics.

    1. Yeah, funny thing. SFWA seems rather biased and discriminatory. They’re all in for Black Culture, Hispanic Culture, Feminist culture, LGBTQ+ culture, but really against the culture Ms. Lackey apparently grew up in. Kind of racist and ageist, really. After all, Ms. Lackey is only about 10 years older than I am. Andn according to the article, she wasn’t trying to be insulting to Mr. Delaney. A simple, “Sorry, that didn’t come out quite right” should have sufficed. /sigh Tolerance is soooo dead.

      1. “Tolerance is soooo dead.”

        But… Popper!

        In any case, the issue is there in what you wrote, that Black Culture, or Hispanic (excuse me, Latinx), or Feminist or LGBTQWTF Culture, that each is singular. A black author (I think?) a woman with a trans-daughter, got kicked out of Balticon (?) for supposedly saying something transphobic in a panel all about how important it is to hire diversity readers. What are the chances, really, that she is or would ever say something transphobic? Except that it’s all singular. One accepted culture, one accepted opinion. And it’s quite likely that she had and voiced an opinion that wasn’t quite perfectly in-line with that exact single acceptable opinion.

        What is Black Culture? Middle-class family oriented church going professionals or… urban gangster? Pick one!

        And once you do, (and I’ve been told that this is a terrible take on what Popper actually said or thought about anything,) there’s a hard moral imperative not to tolerate *any* deviation from that singular thing. Tolerance, after all, guarantees that you lose.

    2. According to the news, ML is 71. While I don’t consider myself to be one foot in the grave at 63, she’s not exactly a spring chicken.

  110. I read this piece as an extended critique of her boyfriend and his proclivities.
    She is deeply unsatisfied with him. She finds his reading unmanly. She thinks he’s a loner with no friends. She thinks he’s whiny. She thinks he doesn’t spend enough time outdoors. She thinks he is ridiculous. She thinks that he doesn’t have a purpose in life. She thinks he is obtuse. She thinks he is uninteresting and his tastes are mundane. She is weary of a future together (sad middle-aged etc.).
    In her view, men are sad cases (like her boyfriend), while women have their famously strong sisterhood, including the novels that allow them to understand each other. So she is confident of making a successful rebound.
    He made his bed and now he should lie into it, but I still pity him. She is ready to dump him. He should watch out.

  111. “Who the hell unironically uses “thrice”? ”

    I have done so, more than one or two times.

    Some bookish people love language, including useful, lyrical, brief, and clear words bestowed by forebears.

  112. Speaking as a science fiction writer who writes fight scenes lasting through multiple chapters and who considers any novel where I do not blow up a planet or a small universe to be unambitious, let me just say:
    Jane Austen is well worth reading by any reader, male or female, because she is writing about realistic, living characters, facing real high-stakes issues, with emotional weight behind each decision. Ditto for GONE WITH THE WIND, which is a war story told from the viewpoint of the civilians left back home.
    What Ash here talks about is nothing like that. She admires fake books about cardboard two-dimensional people, deadly dull characters, who happened to be self absorbed. The emotional nooks and crannies she mentions are the mirror of Narcissus.
    Leftists pull down monuments. Harpies defecate on feast tables. They don’t want to enjoy good books. They just want us not to.

  113. ” I wanted to know more about “Ash” to understand where she is coming from….”

    He’s from Pallet Town. At ten years old, he left town with an obstreperous electric rat, and wonders the wilderness capturing pocket-monsters for use in dogfights and bear-baiting. Ash Catchem. Right?

    No, I am sorry.

    He was the hero with one hand, his other replaced by a chainsaw, who held out against an invasion of undead. They wanted to make him King, but he had to return to our world, and work in the S-Mart. Shop Smart, shop S-Mart. Hail to the king, baby. Ash Williams. That is he, is it not?

    My mistake. He was the primordial man sprung from an ash tree, and given soul, sense, and life by the gods Vili, Ve, and Odin. That him?

    1. No sir Mr. Wright. Ash was the trusted science officer of Weyland-Yutani’s freighter Nostromo, who disobeyed acting Captain Ripley’s orders to quarantine the away team on LV426 after the away team encountered a mysterious organism.

  114. Wasn’t Ash also the lead character in the ‘combat robots in medieval Europe’ SF novel that not so much challenged suspension of disbelief as stomped it into the ground?

    I can remember neither the title nor the author of the gem in question.

  115. There’s a lot I wanted to respond to, but as soon as spotted my favorite Big Steamin’ Load, I knew that was all the comment I needed: “But the thing is, women don’t just read novels to understand ourselves: we read them to understand each other.”

    I hear this tripe all the time from people who want to me to waste my limited time on Earth reading some book that is about their personal hobbyhorse, so I can “understand”, and I always respond, “If I came to you and said ‘I know what it feels like to be a (whatever hobbyhorse is), I read about it . . . IN A BOOK!’, you’d rightly tell me to fuck off, so how is this any different?”

    And you don’t know who bell hooks is? You lucky, lucky bastard.

  116. “Why prod the nooks and crannies of the human heart”

    One of the most painfully abusive books I’ve ever read was that icon of “literary” fiction, “Invisible Man.” It was painful because it was NOTHING but prodding the aformentioned nooks and crannies.

    The “shift” in the demographics of authors which LC talks of has another, less often noted cause. The demographics of the publishing INDUSTRY, i.e. the people deciding WHO gets published and promoted. The average publishing house makes it look like elementary school teaching is overrun with men.

  117. Ash Sarkar is an idiot. She’s so dim scientists use her writing to test quantum interference in double-slit experiments. And GQ is for wankers. So in conclusion I’m not sure why you wasted your time writing a critique of her article. It’s merely enough to know that something she’s written has appeared in print for everything else to logically follow.

    1. Because the Fisking is grand, even if the original article was worthless crap?

      Creative writers find inspiration in the oddest places. If the International Lord Of Hate got satisfaction from his work, if people were entertained, how was that a waste? Is he only allowed to write what YOU consider worthwhile?

      If I am impatient to read the next Grimnoir book, the next Monster Hunter, the next Forgotten Warrior, that’s my problem. Nagging won’t make him write any faster. If you annoy him, he might spend a week doing nothing but painting miniatures just out of spite. Is that what you want?
      ———————————
      “Oh, no. You can’t-a fool me. There ain’t-a no Sanity Clause!”

    2. I agree with the other replies, but I would add: because some idiots agree with this mentality. Calling it out and then shredding the argument with an entertaining fisking increases the likelihood that someone will go, “Wait, that makes sense” and stop giving both Sarkar and GQ the attention and start focusing on more worthwhile pursuits.

    3. Yeah… I built my entire career on finding new fans by writing entertaining blog posts that have gone viral. So I enjoy it, get more sales, get new fans, and expand my audience, all while making a political statement that gives ammo to my side and helps convince the undecided. Total waste. 🙂

      1. That’s how I found you, actually. I was on a gun subreddit and saw a picture of a button or something from a gun show that said, “Because you’re awesome, and we love you!” I was asking, “Uh, what? That’s weird” and was linked to your HK post by someone. So I read that, found it entertaining. Read your “About Me” and “Best of MHN” posts, loved those.

        Now i have purchased 4 books, and about to complete my Grimnoir Chronicles collections.

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