Saturday, October 11, 2003

Publishers fight for more 'male lit'

Two men are fighting back against the "chick lit" phenomenon by setting up a publishing company exclusively for men's and boys' books.

David Elliot and Brad Thompson want to attack the "namby-pamby, touchy-feely" style of authors like Tony Parsons.

The pair told the Daily Telegraph there should be more buccaneering tales that teach boys about chivalry and stoicism.

Spitfire Books' first release will be Barry Norman's laddish 30-year-old novel Have a Nice Day.

The company, which will publish boys' books under the title Young Spitfire, is fighting the corner for men, believing female authors such as Zadie Smith and Helen Fielding receive too much attention.

"Because of feminism and political correctness, what young men read now is crap these days, with books by people like Tony Parsons," said Mr Elliot in the Telegraph.
"It's all this new dad stuff, all namby pamby touchy-feely. Where are all the great buccaneering, derring-do, true-life adventures and cowboy stories? Our criteria is that we want bloody good reads."

Spitfire wants a return to adventure stories where men are men and debauchery is welcomed along with smoking and drinking.

Female characters look like they will be given short shrift in Spitfire stories, as Mr Elliot believes JK Rowling was wrong to have made Harry Potter's friend Hermione his equal.

"It is typical of modern children's books in which there is a boy and a girl and the girl is as good as the boy," he said.

"Just William is a much better read for boys. Violet Elizabeth Bott was a whingeing, snivelling sneak who was always frightened. That is how I would like the girls to be."

The publishers say the influence of female-orientated books has edged out writers such as Neville Chute and JB Priestley.
Mr Elliot said Spitfire will provide an alternative to the publisher Virago, founded 30 years ago to promote women's fiction.

"They had their day," he said.

"Now it's time for us to have ours to redress the balance because men are not getting a fair crack of the whip."

Are there really not enough novels around for men and boys? Send us your thoughts using the form below.

I've read quite a few novels where men get to be extremely debauched, smoke and drink to excess and have lots of adventures where girls are given very short shrift. Of course, their focus is gay men in the urban jungle so maybe it's not quite what Spitfire want...
David, UK

I challenge you to find a boy equivalent of Hermione, ie someone who is good at studies not games. All the children fiction I have read has boy heroes as good at things other than academic subjects (eg William, Jennings, Harry Potter etc) while there is a wide range of "academic is cool" fiction for girls. When schools are failing our boys it is sad that fiction is too.
John, UK

The lack of books aimed at boys is simply the result of market forces. Because parents have an increased tendency to talk to baby girls, they pick up linguistic skills earlier on and are consequently much more likely to read. More female readers means more femenist books being written to supply the demand.
Graeme Phillips, Germany, normally UK

I think this is great and don't know why anyone hadn't thought of it earlier. I hope it succeeds - most (thirtysomething) blokes I know haven't read a single book since school. It would be nice to see books aimed at men that aren't either (a) humorous; (b) thrillers; (c) fantasy/sci-fi or (d) about the underworld/drug culture - because it my experience that's about all they'll read (if they do at all). Let's see something different.
Holly, UK

I look forward to seeing Spitfire Books crash and burn. Elliot and Thompson are the literary equivalent of The Darkness: sounding ironic without meaning to and ending up all the more pitiable because apparently this really is the best they can do. To quote "namby-pamby" Oscar Wilde: books are either well-written or badly written, that is all. What matters in creative writing is not what is said but the way it is said.

Men are not getting a fair crack of the whip? Well, to quote Martin Amis (a man who really knows how to write) in his new novel: that seems like a mild reparation for five million years in power.
Alan Simpson, Belfast, NI

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2003/10/10 13:45:05 GMT


No comments:

Search This Blog