I feel safe calling Fight Club a “dude book.” It can certainly be enjoyed by anyone but it was also clearly targeted at men. And that’s perfectly fine. But when author Chuck Palahniuk took part in a Tumblr Q&A recently to promote his new book, he said a few things about what’s out there “for the menz” which have us tilting our heads.
We recently reported on Deadline writer Mike Fleming Jr. lamenting the loss of “his” guy film, Ghostbusters, to a possible female-led cast. Because, oh woe is me what will be left for the “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.”
But in Palahniuk’s Q&A session (which lasted over a week), there are two replies which have since been deleted (never a good sign). One was a response to a question about his books being taught in college courses. He replied:
That fact that ‘Fight Club’ is being taught seems — to me — to underscore the dearth of novels that explore male issues. The past years have given us so many books, from ‘The Color Purple’ to ‘The Joy Luck Club’ to ‘How to Make an American Quilt,’ which depict women in groups and relationship, but almost no books depicting social models for men. That’s my two cents worth.
Just because you’re seeing more female-led projects in the spotlight does not mean there’s a shortage of books focused on male issues. “Thank you, Chuck, for standing up for male writers, a desperately marginalized group,” was a seemingly sarcastic follow-up to his answer. Which, to be fair, is not quite what the author was getting at in his answer. He never mentioned the authors, just content. Though he did trip up with that as he replied:
Consider that reading has become a mostly female pastime and that males are being better served by other media: the web, film, gaming. Of course publishers will skew toward the most profitable audience. Otherwise the world is still chasing the golden demographic of the ‘young male.’ If male writers could better serve that readership, it would explode. We’re only marginalized if we accept that status. What troubles me is the seemingly high number of younger male suicides: David Foster Wallace, Alexander McQueen, plus older men such as Spalding Grey [sic] and Hunter S. Thompson, not to mention ‘accidental’ deaths like Heath Ledger and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
“We’re only marginalized if we accept that status.” Stop. Stop right there. You’re not marginalized. You’re absolutely not. When another tumblr user called him on that specifically it played out like this:
Anonymous said: I hope you understand how disheartening it is to hear a prominent male writer say male writers are ‘marginalized.’ As someone who should be in touch with marginalization since that’s often a theme of your novels, I would just hope you realize the ignorance in that statement and realize how the groups that are actually marginalized–women writers, lgbt writers, writers of color–feel when reading that.
Hey, no wait. If you look again, it was the original questioner who used the ‘M’ word.
Ok then. Let’s backtrack for a second – what in the world was that tangent into suicide? He took something which would have been interesting to explore – are men reading less these days than women, and why – and derailed the conversation into an unrelated, serious issue. I’m completely boggled.
The extended question and answer session was otherwise filled with sarcastic replies about sex and some really great writing advice, so it’s unfortunate Palahniuk took a huge misstep. And while it wasn’t related specifically to the previous questions, I couldn’t help but notice this one:
alltimepoop said: what do you think of the fault in our stars? how about 50 shades of grey?
What’s to say? Sex and death sell. But I lived through “Love Story” so I don’t need to see ‘Stars.”
Considering the tumblr asks were deleted, it’s quite possible the author realized what he said was boneheaded and would rather forget the whole thing, but this is the internet after all. What do you think of Palahniuk’s main argument – that there are almost no books depicting social models for men?
(via The Daily Dot)