I really like this article. As a female writer, I am still thoroughly flabbergasted at the notion that there is “manly” writing (i.e. “worthy” writing) and the lesser “womens” writing. I think there is good writing, and bad writing, and I’m not always reluctant to read the bad stuff if it has zing.
And it has always been a personal rule of mine to never, ever date a man who speaks highly of Charles Bukowski. (Because, you know, he’s so manly, goddamn it.)
There are good and great books on the Esquire list, though even Moby-Dick, which I love, reminds me that a book without women is often said to be about humanity but a book with women in the foreground is a woman’s book.
And that list would have you learn about women from James M. Cain and Philip Roth, who just aren’t the experts you should go to, not when the great oeuvres of Doris Lessing and Louise Erdrich and Elena Ferrante exist. I look over at my hero shelf and see Philip Levine, Rainer Maria Rilke, Virginia Woolf, Shunryu Suzuki, Adrienne Rich, Pablo Neruda, Subcomandante Marcos, Eduardo Galeano, Li Young Lee, Gary Snyder, James Baldwin, Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez.
These books are, if they are instructions at all, instructions in extending our identities out into the world, human and nonhuman, in imagination as a great act of empathy that lifts you out of yourself, not locks you down into your gender.