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August 19th, 2007

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

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