Nod to the Men (writers)

After going through the classics all up through high school, I could not find a single male author I liked. I do keep trying, yet invariably stop part way through each book. Writing is horrible, or just so technical that it stops being a novel. Plots are bad. And if a woman is involved in the story- my god, even worse. Dry, robotic, and in some way insulting.

I keep trying.  I’ve got to be picking out the wrong books, rather than it being purely that they’re male writers. Books should be gender-blind, right? A good book is a good book, regardless of who writes it. I’m trying to be a broad-perspective reader to compliment my author skills, reading as much self-published as I do traditional, becoming (slightly) less picky of genres, more open-minded, and delving into experiences I wouldn’t normally relate to. But damn, where are some good male writers??

I found three in the last few months! Finally!

First choice was Kevin Brennan’s Yesterday Road.

He did threaten something about sick puppies that day. Which made me laugh, and download his book.

Literary fiction isn’t my first choice of reading. Writers seem to play it too safe, keeping things neat and tidy with perfectly predicatable happy endings. I prefer edgy, mostly fantasy-ish stuff (where rules and boundaries are bent and broken). I should be able to be fair, though, and review based on the story and not the genre.

Wow. I read that first sentence and smiled so big. I had the oddest sensation, a vision of soft blue with a breeze of….magic…floating across. I knew it was going to be a great book. His is one of those rare writing talents, where I was sucked in from just that first benign sentence. I missed my train stop reading his book. It was gripping, powerful, humorous, and expertly written. The non-conventional characters drew me in to where it was hard to convince myself they weren’t real at the end. They were people I was initially afraid I wouldn’t be able to relate to- an older man with alzheimers, and a middle-aged man with autism. But I did, very easily. I felt deeply invested in what happened to them, and cared about what happened to them. I’ve driven their route several times- Colorado to Chicago- and spent my childhood in another area I want to explore now because of this book. Anyway, I always felt like I was right there with them. Beautiful, beautiful read. Though, dammit, he made me cry. Did I mention it was a beautiful read?

Second was A Death Displaced, By Andrew Butcher.

More my genre. Half the narration was through the viewpoint of a woman, and he wrote her perfectly.  Yay! I also loved the main guy and the way he’s handling his personal issues. Plus, being American, with our Salem, I tend to forget we aren’t the only ones with the shame of burning women and calling them witches. Reading about a British version of the Salem experience, and paganism, and supernatural occurances was amazing. I couldn’t predict anything (which is great!), and it was edgy and suspenseful, with a good dose of creepy. I immediately downloaded the sequel- though I went on to read the next book first:

The Dollmaker, by L. E. Gay.

Found it listed on a new FB author page I’d joined and was upset that there were no likes. It was a cool cover and mixed in with a ton of erotica and other posts, it stood out quite strongly. Simple as that. Kinda pissed me off, the lack of attention, and I don’t know why. I could’ve been projecting, it could be some voodoo, but even so, I was compelled to leave a comment and then went on to find his blog and read the first couple pages.

Ok, to be honest, I might have been more hesitant had I seen a blantantly male name as the writer, especially given what is alluded to pretty quickly. However, he handled the more disturbing events with not only sensitivity, but with a way of explaining without focusing.  Loved that. The majority of the main characters are female, and again, he wrote them expertly- whether they were liked or despised.  Delicate, loving, unnerving, suspenseful, and hopeful all when it needed to be, providing a very multi-dimensional book. With voodoo at its core. Looking forward to the sequel!

I’m writing this really, really hoping no one takes it as me sticking my foot in my mouth. My point is only that you should keep pushing past your own restrictions: you might find something amazing. And as I stated, because I’d come to the point where I’d automatically pass a book by due to the gender of the author, I wanted to make something of a public bow, acknowledging writers I might have skipped past earlier last year. These were trully good books, based solely on their own merit and not the names of their writers.

Please add these to your reading lists (after you finish RMOS, of course)!


9 thoughts on “Nod to the Men (writers)

  1. Thank you for the beautiful review. So glad you enjoyed The Doll Maker. I was pleasantly surprised to find the notification in my email and touched by your encouraging words. Best wishes!

    1. My pleasure. Our road isn’t easy, and any kind of encouragement goes a long way. This is my way of sending good vibes to my fellow Indies 🙂 Hope it works!

  2. Wonderful review of Yesterday Road! I’ve read Yesterday Road and completely agree with your assessment of it. I haven’t the other two books, but I like your reviews so I might check them out 🙂

    About literary fiction, though, I can’t think of any (or much) literary fiction I’ve read where things are kept “neat and tidy” and endings are “perfectly,” predictably happy. I’ve always thought of literary fiction as more character-driven and in that case less likely to be predictable. For me, literary fiction is a microscope on real life, which is why I so enjoyed Yesterday Road. Bad things happen to good people, Murphy’s Law rules, and while the ending is satisfying, it’s bittersweet.

    1. I think I’ve had just a lot of bad luck with literary fiction- and fiction in general. Though to be fair, not all the other genres I’ve read this year have been great.
      In literary fiction, I look for characters that are so well-done, it’s nearly a study on psychology or sociology (Yesterday Road and The God of Small Things, for example). Where not only are they tested, but I the reader am tested as well. I want to be shaken, I want to review my perceptions and see things I didn’t know how to look for. I dislike when characters are put through something tragic or difficult, but it leaves no effect on them. Or you. What’s the point of the story, then?
      The ending to Yesterday Road was good, though neither happy nor sad. Bittersweet describes it perfectly.

      Thank you for stopping by! Please do check into the other two books, and my list of 2013’s best (which all three of these are also on).

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