Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Mish Mash

Multiple thoughts going on all at once today, so I'm all over the board here.

When do you officially declare a blog dead? After a month of no activity? Two weeks? Six months? I have a couple of blogs bookmarked that I drop by on a daily basis. Some of them have had sporadic postings from the get go, so it's not entirely unusual for three weeks or more to go by without a new posting. Those I have at the bottom of my list and skip occassionally.

Others, however, have always been updated fairly regularly, and by that I mean if not daily, every other or every third day. But a couple of them have now gone at least three weeks without any new postings. Since the bloggers hadn't indicated an impending vacation, I wonder if something has happened. I hope those folks are okay and real life is just keeping them too busy to blog (can relate to that). I hate to knock those blogs off my visit list because I do enjoy them.

Candy over at Smart Bitches has an interesting entry about men refusing to read "female" fiction while women have no problems - and no stigma - reading "men fiction." Totally agree with everything she's pointed out, but the comment by Arethusa really hit it home:

"Would Harry Potter be as popular a book, if the protagonist was a Harriet?"

I would claim that the answer to that question is a profound and sad "No". I have no doubt in my mind that if J.K. Rowling had decided to focus her stories on the adventures of a young witch - if she'd changed nothing in her stories except making Harry a female - there is no way the books would have reached the level of success they have. Because every boy who has leapt into these stories (and thus, bought one of the gazillion copies sold) would not have touched this book under threat of nothing but brussel sprouts for dinner for an entire month. Uh huh. Cause it would have a "girl" in it and thus girl-cooties. So uncool.

This segregation in reading materials between men and women starts very young. When you go into my public library, the children's department offers these handy book lists that offer up titles suitable for different age groups. "Books for First Graders" and "Books for Third Graders" kind of lists. And it doesn't take long before the lists get split into "Books for Third Grade Boys" and "Books for Sixth Grade Girls". In order to keep them reading, I suppose, teachers and librarians try to offer boys books that will capture their attention, and apparently the ones written for girls won't achieve this goal. I know this because I was an elementary education major for a while and was specifically told that keeping boys reading is a lot harder than keeping girls reading.

What's sad is that boys who sat still on the reading rug listening to their first grade teacher read Junie B. Jones books outloud wouldn't be caught dead checking out Little House On the Prairie. Which seems to mean it's not necessarily the story or female protagonist that disinterests them but rather what their friends might say if they get caught with a girl-cooties book. This brainwashing starts young and continues through adulthood. I admire a man who has the confidence in his manhood to read a romance novel if he enjoys it, despite what his macho mates might say.

Perhaps the answer is to put brown paper covers on all romance novel books so that only the title shows. And the titles, of course, would need to be changed to things like "Two Hot Chicks and a Car Chase" regardless of the contents. Then men could show their reading materials to the world with pride.

My show, Queer As Folk, is running down to its last four episodes, and I'm starting to get twitchy. I'm pretty sure the writers intend to wrap it all up, in other words, not leave any story lines dangling too loosely so that we sign off feeling that endings have been reached. Even so, this is the kind of show that has me glancing at the clock while watching each episode, dreading that we are coming up on the end of the hour. I'm never, never ready for an episode to be over - a sign of great storytelling IMO since it means I've been so drawn into the world of the characters that I don't want to leave it. What I'm going to do when the end of that final hour comes up I have no idea. I have the DVDs, but it's just not the same as knowing I get new episodes.

Today Suzanne Brockmann's newest Troubleshooter book, Breaking Point, comes out. I was all ready to be standing at the doors of B&N when they opened to get my copy, but then I realized this book isn't as likely to get the Harry Potter Book 6 treatment. I've decided it might be prudent to call ahead and make sure they've actually gotten that box unpacked before I head over there. I cannot wait to get my hands on it!

To those of you who enjoy the Purple Prose Parody Contest over at AAR, better read and get your vote in. Voting ends at midnight tomorrow, July 13th. I think this may be the PPP's last year due to lack of interest. Maybe if the voters turn out they'll decide to keep it. I enjoyed participating.

UPDATE: By 11:00 I couldn't wait anymore, although I'm using the excuse that we were already out and about and killing time while waiting to pick up my dauther, so we headed over to B&N. I walked through the door, my eyes peeled for the shiny cover of Breaking Point. It wasn't on the hardback Best Sellers list, which makes sense since it has just started selling plus Nora has a lock on all those slots (her name is stenciled on the rack spaces). It wasn't on the New Fiction rack right by the front door, so I started to get worried. I geared myself up for telling the nearest salesperson they were going to have to go back to the stockroom and start cracking open boxes while I wandered deeper, toward the romance section. And then, before I reached Romance Central, I found it. A stack of them were placed on a Great Summer Reads table. Not hugely prominent, but still not shoved spine out in some random romance shelf.

I snatched up my copy and am heading for the choice reading spot on the couch. See ya in a few hours!


Ronn said...

I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision, but I am guilty of not reading stories concerning female protagonists. I think that changed when I started getting audio books at the library. See, the library doesn’t have the largest selection of audio books and beggars can’t be choosers. So I pick up three books pretty much at random. It’s really diversified what I read/listen to, well, that and all the blogs I follow that are written by female romance writers. Now I’m much less likely to turn away from a book with a female lead. It’s a change for the better.

Lynn M said...

Ronn, you impress the hell out of me because you've given it a try!! I know so many guys who walk away without even a second glance if they catch a whiff of "romance" in a book, and a lot of them assume if the protagonist is a female, the book must be overly emotional. I suppose I'd get them to try a J.D. Robb In Death to move past that particular misconception.