*This post title is a reference to Harry Enfield sketches that parodied the nineteen-fifties attitude to women, and NOT my personal opinion. I thought I’d better say that first rather than suffer the wrath of female-kind. I also thought it might send a rocket up some bums. That’s not a euphemism. Oh dear…
That said, the reason behind this post lies in a quick looksee at the Amazon top lists of Kindle Fantasy books, and how it showed that there were far more female fantasy authors than male (on the list at least), and that I had just finished reading some Trudi Canavan books.
Every pore of my being is teling me to just let it go and that whatever I say will be put down to misogynistic generalisation, but I am so bereft of inspiration for this blog that I am desperate and willing to court controversy to ease the blockage.
The books in question, by Ms Canavan, were her Traitor spy trilogy. To be honest, I forged through them only because I’d been foolish enough to fork out hard-earned cash for ’em, but I was perpetually annoyed by the tone throughout. I’ll concede it was well-written, but where I would normally get lost in the story – the characters, the scene-setting, world-building – this time I was constantly being reminded that the author was female. Whether it was the perspectives, the emotionally texture, the relentless FEELINGS, or the overt female-centric nature of the protagonists/plot, I just kept feeling that ‘gender’ was hovering over it like a big, lovely lady cloud, and that is not a feeling I get from male authors. That’s probably because I am a man, or maybe the title tricked me into not realising this was a romance…
I am not saying that there shouldn’t be love, romance and frissons aplenty (that’s part of the genre), I just don’t like it being overt and in yer face.
What that says about me as a reader (aside from I probably wouldn’t like 50 shades) I cannot tell. Maybe it infers that I am, on a fantasy novel basis, a misogynist? A fantamisogynist, if you will (dammit, that word is now MINE). It is certainly true that some of my favourite fantasy books have been by women, but I found myself scanning that Amazon list looking for male authors to look into, which surprised me somewhat. It may also say that I am repressed, emotionally, but I cried at Lassie films as a child, a fact which scotches that misconception sure enough.
It may come down to the nature of the beast. It would infer that writing in the fantasy genre is much more popular to women than men, or that female fantasy writers are just more successful, but I think it is certainly the case that fantasy is not a purely masculine vice as it might have seemed to have been in the past. I think that this is a damn good thing, but it is a shame that Trudi Canavan’s work (and it is a very well crafted bunch of books) and a number of other works by women, has made me yearn for male authors. Perhaps that is not a criticism of the books, as much as evidence of my own intransigence.
Saying that, I am very willing to be persuaded otherwise.