Venus & Mars—do we write differently? (Part 2)

mars-venus-statue

Lately, I've been struck by something strange: my growing preference for male writers. I'm a little tired of Venus, which is hard for me to admit...what with being a girl.

But after reading a lot of female authors recently, I find myself bored with their focus on the intimate—the bird's eye view into relationships and family—waiting for the shoe to drop, the relationships to explode, tragedy to strike, and a general mess to be made of everything. I'm always worried how it all gets cleaned up.

I'm thinking of authors like Sue Miller, Jodi Picoult, Anne Tyler, Alice Hoffman, Jennifer Weiner, Marilynne Robinson. These are incredibly talented writers; they're wonderful. It's just that....

Men seem to write on a larger scale; even the personal is painted on a broader canvas, sometimes of near-epic proportions. I'm thinking of David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet ... Jeffrey Eugenidies Middlesex...David Wroblewski's Edgar Sawtelle......Phlip Roth's The Human Stain or American Pastoral.

After finishing one of those novels, I feel as if I've been part of something grand, something vast and far beyond my day-to-day perception of life. There's a thrill in that.

But now, in the very act of putting pen to paper (or finger to key), I'm starting think of all the exceptions: Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall is of an era, and Louise Erdrich's Plague of Doves is mythic. Both Richard Russo and Chris Bohjalian write with penetrating intimacy. So...well, there you go. I've proven nothing.

Still, the issue recalls an earlier post in which I asked the same question: Do men and women write differently? The question at the time was spurred by Liesl Schillinger, who wrote in a New York Times review of Domestic Disturbances:

While the voice and mood of the novel are masculine, clinical and objective . . . the book’s descriptions of colors, smells, clothing and bodies show feminine perception.

So...if Liesl can say something like that...maybe I'm not nuts.

Comments  

0 #3 K. 2013-02-25 22:56
Reading things like that makes me wanna howl... Are you writing this seriously? I've read a lot of female authours, I think. Tho I don't know the ladies you mentioned. I'm not interested in the blabbers about love, cheating, shopping etc. I just don't read these books. There are lots of more books on different topics written by ladies.

I tend to read more science fiction and fantasy. Want something Grand? Try Celia Friedman's "Coldfire Trilogy". How about trying some non-Western female writers? Or more on social-issues?

I don't know any of the authors you mentioned (both men and women) but aren't you comparing apples to oranges? Or do you compare light romance readings written by women and men?
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0 #2 Molly from LitLovers 2011-07-22 09:11
I prepared a list for my brother...and noticed I had only 2 female authors,Jennife r Eagana and Louise Erdrich.

But why do men feel reading books by women is "chick-lit" and beneath them? Women are always reading books by male authors.
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0 #1 Cathy Santos 2011-07-21 20:53
One of our book club members husband read all of our selections because he orders the books online for their family. Recently over cocktails at their beach cottage, he commented that most of our books were "chick-oriented " selections; some he liked and others that he did not. Since I love a challenge, I asked my sister to help me composed a list of more "manly" titles for Dan. Upon the list completion I realized they were all books that my sister and I adored reading!! So much for separation of the sexes. k
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