A Rant About Cold Mountain, Male Authors, and Search For Happily Ever After
Chuck Wendig has been tackling the juggernaut of misogyny over at his blog this week. He’s thought provoking, articulate, and well-balanced as always. All worth a read. In one of his posts he talks about how he really expanded his reading palette and made a true effort to include women. For which I totally applaud him. I hazard a guess that most men won’t do this.
As an intelligent and generally open-minded individual, I feel like I ought to do the same because my bookshelves (the fiction anyway) are DOMINATED by women. I just don’t read men’s books often. I wrote about this back in 2008. Men simply don’t tend to write about what I want to read about (relationships). Or if they do, they seem to favor the bullshit pulled by Nicholas Sparks (who is improperly categorized as ROMANCE in almost every bookstore I’ve ever been in)–i.e. KILLING OFF THE HERO (or the heroine, depending). HELLOOOOOO, this is not romance. This violates the number 1 premise of romance. THOU SHALT NOT KILL OFF THE HERO OR HEROINE (unless thou will be pulling a Scribe Virgin a la the Black Dagger Brotherhood–divine intervention is totally allowed).
One of the other favorites seems to be to bring the hero and heroine together long enough to get busy (which may or may not be actually emotionally moving) and then kill off the hero, leaving the heroine to have his baby. Cold Mountain anyone? I just finished watching it recently, which is the thing that spawned this rant. I mean, what IS this ending? Some male ideal of “oh I successfully spread my genetic material, so my death wasn’t in vain”? The woman is supposed to be happy to be left ALONE to take care of a child, with no help (and in the particular time period of that movie, in a time where she’s as likely as not to die from childbirth, not to mention the additional financial hardships). COME ON. I don’t know any women who would be okay with this in real life, so why would we be okay with in fiction?
This is not a satisfying or acceptable ending to me.
Inman totally should’ve just killed the dude instead of running his mouth. Noble should not equate to stupid.
So I go look up the book. Sure enough. Written by a dude. This is a wholly sexist opinion, I admit. But this is why I don’t tend to read men. I want my romantic relationships (frequently NOT the focus of male work), and I want my HEA or HFN, damn it. On the rare occasions I take a chance, I’m usually disappointed and left wanting to throw the book (or movie, as it were) against a wall, regretting the fact that I set a toe out of the romance world where that contract with me as reader is NOT going to be violated.
Detractors of the genre like to point out (among other criticisms) that romance is unrealistic, and real life doesn’t work that way, and and and…
I don’t give a rat’s ass.
FICTION IS UNREALISTIC. Period. Real life is (usually) boring and dull and full of misunderstandings and asinine, everyday problems. I don’t wanna read about more of them. By necessity, fiction has to streamline that and make things actually, you know, interesting. Or it doesn’t get published. Or read. With the exception of some literary fiction, but that’s not my point.
What the hell is wrong with giving some LOVE AND HOPE, I’d like to know?
Anyway, I have not given up on finding some male authors to read, but I want INPUT from all of you. I want recs of books by dudes where they DON’T break that rule, where they actually recognize that SOMETIMES LOVE ACTUALLY TRIUMPHS and they’re not all killing people off like Joss Whedon or George R. R. Martin.
I open the floor to you, dear readers.