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Boy Fiction?

I usually make it a policy not to comment on reviews, especially negative reviewers. When you put your art out there in the marketplace on public view, some are going to like and some are going to hate it. Comes with the territory. And like Superchicken always said, I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.

Normally, I would not even comment on something as spectacularly wrong-headed and condescending as the review of the HBO series GAME OF THRONES recenltly published in the NEW YORK TIMES. There have been dozens and dozens of reviews of the show coming out all over the place, in newspaper and magazines, on television and radio, and of course on the web. Most, I am pleased to say, have been very good, but of course there are some bad ones as well. C'est la vie.

((Okay, I will confess, it does cheese me when I come across a reviewer who simply hates all fantasy. I had hoped that kind of literary snobbism was extinct, or nearly so. Maybe not.))

But the startling assertion in the TIMES review that women could not possibly like fantasy unless a lot of graphic sex was added to it (??) has prompted me to break my "no comment" rule. At least to extent of this post.

I see this morning that legions of female fantasy readers and self-proclaimed "geek girls" and "scifi chicks" have risen up all over the internet to say all the things that I'm too polite and too busy to say. And a lot more besides. I'd link to their blogs and posts here, but it would take hours. Google will lead you to them, if you're interested. It would seem that so many outraged emails and posts poured into the TIMES that they had to shut down the comments section for the review.

I am not going to get into it myself, except to say
(1) if I am writing "boy fiction," who are all those boys with breasts who keep turning up by the hundreds at my signings and readings?
(2) thank you, geek girls! I love you all.


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Apr. 17th, 2011 03:41 am (UTC)
It's one thing to write a negative review of something. I'd have been perfectly willing to accept a negative review of GoT, as much as I love the series, as long as it was well-written and made fair points. But this review is full of a bunch trite stereotypes of fantasy fans that hasn't even been accurate for 30 years now. It's true that fantasy used to be very male oriented and had a lot of works written by hacks. And even Tolkien, as great of an author as he was, barely made any mention of women at all. But, in the past 30 years or so, both male and female fantasy authors have made interesting, three dimensional female characters, in addition to telling stories that are far from lame sword and sorcery cliches that made literary types hate fantasy novels. And not to be a shameless sycophant or anything, but ASOIF is about as far from all those old fantasy cliches as it gets. So, basically, this reviewer wasn't even focusing on the merits (or lack thereof) of the plot, the acting, and the source material. It's a very weak review when a reviewer tries to show you how clever they are and not comment on most of the elements of something. I got nothing out of the review about any of the actors' performances, the reviewer's take on the plot, or anything useful, for that matter. Just a bunch of lame stereotypes about fantasy fans. I mean, seriously, maybe in 1980 she might've had a point. But this? This doesn't make any sense.
Apr. 17th, 2011 03:49 am (UTC)
We love you too!

This woman has no idea what she is talking about. This review sounds like she was reading a book or something while she was watching. A bad book. Like Twilight.
Apr. 17th, 2011 03:54 am (UTC)
we love you too, sir! don't listen to those morons.
Apr. 17th, 2011 04:25 am (UTC)
Compelled to comment as a "boy with breasts" myself :D I've read a lot of the rebuttals and they have been great. I think some geek girls might even start reading the books now just because that review angered them so much.

Also it was great meeting you at the food truck last week!
Bess Cozby
Apr. 17th, 2011 04:26 am (UTC)
George, oh dearest, genius George, reading this forced me to get angry on my blog. It's the first (and hopefully the last) time, but I'm glad to do it on your behalf.

Keep swinging. They're small fish compared to you.

Apr. 17th, 2011 04:35 am (UTC)
<----geek girl and scifi chick who likes your books

Just wanted to add my support to the deluge of comments :)
Apr. 17th, 2011 04:50 am (UTC)
Geek boy married to a geek girl here. That review was painful and frustrating. It's a reminder that no matter how much books like yours and other mainstream SF and Fantasy series have helped make the genre more openly acceptable, there's still a long way to go.

I read the review and hated it. I'm glad you responded. Your response and all these comments have made my day.
Apr. 17th, 2011 05:00 am (UTC)
What is the point of the review?
I'm confused by that review. It seems to me to be mere ramblings. Once I read "...HBO’s forgettable “Rome” (predictable betrayals spiced up with toga parties)...", how could I take anything else she wrote seriously? I wonder what she thought of I Claudius? No doubt because it was a BBC production and shown on PBS she absolutely loved it.

In one of my favorite movies (didn't see the play) Biloxi Blues there's a scene wherein Eugene has his journal read aloud and at that point he realizes that people will believe whatever is written. That was one of those milestone moments in my life. A candle in my consciousness which continues to shine to this day. What she wrote was bunk. No need for it to upset anyone. Although, the fact that she wrote if for a prestigious publication is, upsetting.

Apr. 17th, 2011 05:05 am (UTC)
Not commenting on reviews is good policy, but that thing wasn't a review, it was a few hundred words of unfiltered brain-to-page nonsense published under a reputable banner. A "review" would require engaging with the weaknesses of the show, rather than the critic's dislike of an entire genre.

But I'm willing to let the "Fantasy? Quality? Surely not!" attitude pass with an eye roll because it's boorish, but kind of expected. I am PISSED OFF about the gendering of an entire sub-genre because you'd think an NYT critic would know better, and because darnit, I have had this argument one too many times this week, and my thesis remains the same: this kind of brainless stereotyping screws over everyone.

I also can't help but wonder what the review would be like were the books written by a woman. Same plot, /maybe/ a slightly different tone, maybe not. Would the emphasis on families and relationships, the amount of talking that goes on, and the prevalence of women in positions of power have then made it a show "for girls" with some nudity thrown in to avoid scaring off the straight guys? There are a lot of things that need to be said about gender and speculative fiction. This? Not helping the conversation.

Okay, enough ranting from me. I need to go flip through some books looking for sexytimes, since my ladybrain just can't seem to handle plot.
Apr. 17th, 2011 05:13 am (UTC)
NYT Review
I had written in another LJ my thoughts on this article, but it was the most ridiculous, narrow minded review ever. First, it insults my intelligence and all the other fab geek chics, and women out there who love fantasy. Hey, if I wanted to read about sex and romance,I'd go to the romance novel isle.

Personally, these books, to me, are for those who enjoy complex writing. What do I mean? I mean that they have a lot of characters, places, grudges, etc..to remember, and you need to be smart and want to engage in that type of reading. Most people are not able to follow, nor do they want to. I do not like simplicity in my TV or my reading, so I am a huge scifi geek. No shame here people! I am even going to an event to celebrate Judgement Day! And I am a sorority girl, former ad girl, and now teacher; believe me, I am the most unlikely scifi/fantasy geek, and I have always taken pride in it.

So that's it for here, I shall write in my blog as well, aggh!
But tomorrow night is the big night!! I have to go finish my reread now
Apr. 17th, 2011 05:35 am (UTC)
I just read the review and I guess I'm not a real woman since I don't know who Lorrie Moore is...
Apr. 17th, 2011 05:47 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure Ginia Bellafante only considers herself and her circle of friends to be real women. What a strange world that would be to live in.
(no subject) - pandarus - Apr. 17th, 2011 10:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frontdoorangel - Apr. 18th, 2011 02:57 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 17th, 2011 05:52 am (UTC)
Apr. 17th, 2011 05:53 am (UTC)
I will not express how insulted I am at the review posted by the New York Times here, but I wanted to say that yes, I am a Geek Girl, yes, I read Game of Thrones, and as a Geek Girl, I love you too <3
Apr. 17th, 2011 06:05 am (UTC)
We love you, too, sir.

Am I the only one who's considering purchasing a copy of The Hobbit (there's no way I'm giving up mine, sorry) and sending it to The New York Times, addressed to Ms. Bellafante? Since, you know, apparently her book club has yet to discuss it.

(I'd send A Game of Thrones, but I honestly don't think she could handle it. I first read The Hobbit as a grade-schooler, however, so I'm hoping it's simple enough on the surface for her to understand without, ahem, possessing the ability to count cards.)
Apr. 23rd, 2011 03:41 am (UTC)
You think she'd know what to do with it?
Apr. 17th, 2011 06:07 am (UTC)
My biggest question is why boys don't like graphic sex scenes. That's only for the ladies?
Apr. 23rd, 2011 03:39 am (UTC)
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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