No question that discrimination against female novelists exists, as I’ve written before. And this interview with novelist David Gilmour is emblematic of that whole academic mindset. He’s apparently on the shortlist for some writing prize I never heard of. (Good luck, Dave!)
Well, here’s the thing. Less than five percent of the reading public buys new literary fiction (that number would include me) and that five percent determines what gets on the best seller list. (Unless you’re a wingnut and you get your capitalist sponsors to order it in bulk. But I’m talking about acknowledged fiction here.)
And I have no interest at all in buying this guy’s book now because he sounds like a pretentious asshole, and I’d rather give my money to people who don’t condescend to readers like me. (His book, by the way, is written in the voice of a female narrator. Isn’t that thoughtful?) So here’s one less member of the five percent who will edge him up that list.
Reminds me of that old story about Bruce Springsteen, when he asked Kal Rudman, publisher of the Monday Morning Quarteback, a music industry newsletter, what he had to do to get a Top 40 song. Rudman explained to Springsteen that Top 40 is mainly listened to by girls, and that his demographic was mostly guys. Springsteen came back with the romantic “Hungry Heart,” which was his first Top 40 hit. (Does anyone ever argue that the song is a sellout? Of course not. He merely shifted his focus.)
Wonder where Bruce would be if he’d said to Kal, “No, dude, I only write for manly men and I only listen to men who are real rockers.” Because if girls don’t want to go to the show with their boyfriends, a lot fewer tickets get sold and touring is how musicians make their money.