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Dude Lit

After spending the majority of the weekend either in the car or at laurie_robey's parents' house, we rounded off the evening at Barnes & Noble. Funny how we tend to do that. Hmm. Anyway! While there, I started perusing the fiction aisles for some kind of humorous novel. I didn't find one that caught my interest, but that's okay, I actually have a double-handful waiting anyway so this'll give me the chance to polish off one of those.

What I did find was that "Jane Austen" (and particularly Pride and Prejudice) has become the new "vampire romance" -- no less than three series (series, mind you, not individual novels) based on giving Darcy a new wife (probably not named "Mary Sue" but might as well be), plus several stand-alone titles that referenced either Jane or Darcy. Probably old news to Austenites, but an amusing surprise to me.

That led me to ruminate on the phenomenon of chick lit, which of course I've done before within this very space, and I found myself resentful of both the American publishing industry for not thinking that fiction for men is an idea worth pursuing, and the general population of American males for giving them that idea in the first place. "Why can't we have dude lit?" I wondered aloud.

Of course, we do, in the form of Clive Cussler and Louis L'Amour, but it's a dying genre and not really the kind of thing I'm looking for anyway. I want humorous and sophisticated contemporary novels about, y'know, guys, the same way women have witty and sophisticated contemporary novels about them. Y'know, dude lit. And I want them to sell well enough to be an "empowered" genre, so to speak.

I mean, I don't want that really. I just want there to be novels I want to read. I like reading about the chicks of chick lit, but I don't want that to be all there is. And since the publishing industry thinks in marketing categories, the easiest way to put it into their language is to say I want dude lit.

Anyway, there are, of course, a lot of books precisely as I describe that are written by, for, and about gay guys, which isn't a problem as regards their quality but does limit their sales appeal to the mainstream Joe. Even Joes who aren't homophobes themselves still have to overcome locker-room taboos when it comes to going up to the counter and buying the book.

Ah well, it's not like this is something that's likely to change any time soon. Maybe if I can get my own writing to really take off, I can create the dude lit genre, who knows. ;)

-The Gneech



( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 20th, 2007 02:26 am (UTC)
There's always James Bond. Can't see too many women snapping them up and reading them in one night.
Aug. 20th, 2007 09:42 am (UTC)
Ahem! :)
Aug. 20th, 2007 11:59 am (UTC)
You'd be surprised. :)

Aug. 20th, 2007 02:42 am (UTC)
Both of your examples of Dude Lit are older than they need to be. All the way up to the early 90's people were still writing it.

William Shapir's The Destroyer series
Mack Bolan The Executioner
Mack Maloney's The Wingman series (And here it diverges from the mainstream because I prefered the post apocalyptic pulps to the crime buster pulps)
The Outrider
The Traveller

None of those fit the sophisticated and witty contemporary model, admittedly. But there was a lot of good pulp out there. Manly, bracing stuff, the literary equivilant of showering naked under a roaring waterfall of salty sea-foam with Hemmingway. But without all those overtones and subtle nuances that college level english courses force you to see in anything involving Hemmingway. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends are subtle and nuanced.
Aug. 20th, 2007 12:00 pm (UTC)
I just picked those two because they were the ones I could think of off the top of my head. :)

-The Gneech
Aug. 20th, 2007 02:46 am (UTC)
Spider Robinson? So far, I'm impressed...

My mom had every book by L'Amour (well, up until the late 1980s, before the pumped out book after book after he died) until the divorce...dad took many of her books just to spite her.

I could never really get into L'Amour books...I suppose westerns weren't my thing at the time. Kinda strange, I know.
Aug. 20th, 2007 03:48 am (UTC)
Why is there no dude lit? I think to a large part it's because the publishing industry (like most media these days) seem to honestly believe that men:

a) are stupid,
b) do not read for recreation, or
c) if they are neither of the above strictly limit their reading to mile-deep-but-inch-wide genres (westerns, mysteries, sci-fi etc.)

So the type of sharp, witty 'man about town' novels may actually be written, but they may not be published simply because the publishing industry honestly think that a market for them doesn't exist...
Aug. 20th, 2007 11:58 am (UTC)
And yet, people subscribe to, say, The New Yorker. Harumph, I say!

-The Gneech
Aug. 20th, 2007 05:02 am (UTC)
Perhaps check out this series? I have them all, if you'd like to check them out.

It's what you'd get if some of the hard-boiled detective novels had been set in a fantasy world. (the first three just got reprinted) Quite a lot of fun, the main character is something of a womanizer, has an ego which he does his best to keep inflated, and enough skill, smarts, and talent to at least have a good go at doing so.
Aug. 20th, 2007 11:57 am (UTC)
Not exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of. :) Besides, I've got two of your books here I need to read and get back to you anyway! ;)

-The Gneech
Aug. 20th, 2007 05:59 am (UTC)
I have to being a Cussler addict, well more to the point a Dirk Pitt addict. As for being dude lit, strangely enough, I managed to get my mom hooked on Pitt as well. Case in point, I'm waiting for her to finish Treasure of Khan so that I can get into it.

Other than that, I'm fairly heavy in science fiction, my two favorite reads being Ian Douglas's Heritage Trilogy/Legacy Trilogy, and Eric Flint's 1632 (a.k.a. Ring of Fire) series. Don't know if there's going to be another related trilogy from Douglas, but Flint's got a lot of potential and material for keeping his series going for a while at the least.
Aug. 20th, 2007 09:44 am (UTC)
We have Mike Gayle and Nick Hornby. They're pretty much chicklit written by and about men - lots of women read them, but men do too.

If I see a charity-shop copy I'll sling it your way; they both turn up secondhand a lot.
Aug. 20th, 2007 11:56 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'd say Nick Hornby is the primary model for the kind of thing I'm talking about. I keep meaning to read one of his books sometime, but the cover blurbs always leave me with a worrying feeling that it won't actually be very funny.

I remember you mentioning Mike Gayle before; he seems to be primarily a U.K. phenom, tho, as I don't remember seeing any of his books over here.

-The Gneech
Aug. 20th, 2007 07:27 pm (UTC)
I didn't think I'd like Nick Hornby, since I was under the impression he wrote about terribly blokey things like football and beer. I wholeheartedly recommend High Fidelity and About A Boy, though.
Aug. 20th, 2007 11:11 am (UTC)
dude lit
I don't even _want_ to read anything deemed "chick lit". It is just the same sort of formula that's seen on "Lifetime" channel movies, woman in trouble / danger, gets out of danger due to her own perserverance and generally some guy and her "sassy" girlfriends, woman learns deep lesson. It doesn't work for me.
But honestly, I prefer to read the murder mysteries and the "how to" books. But that's me. That's a lot of money in "chick lit".
Aug. 20th, 2007 12:03 pm (UTC)
Re: dude lit
Well, there is a lot of awful chick lit, yes. :) There's a lot of awful everything, hence Sturgeon's Law.

I'm sure if the "dude lit" genre as I envision came to pass, there'd be a lot of outright junk in there, too.

-The Gneech
Aug. 20th, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC)
Re: dude lit
I was in a bookshop this lunchtime and I couldn't decide whether the display of Chick Books (pink covers, high heels, babies) or the display of Bloke Books (black, silver, ruggedness) looked duller, more depressing and less suited to my tastes. I feel a lengthy rant brewing.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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