|She DRIVES THE DAMN CAR and still has|
to pose like she's on a poster for an auto show. REALLY.
But really, I'm hopping off that soapbox now. I want to talk about something different; something positive about creative women. I want to talk about my recently discovered love for female authors. Or, rather, that I have recently discovered that I have loved female authors for a long time, and I just didn't realize it.
Were you to ask me who my favorite authors are, the first ones out of my mouth would generally be F. Scott Fitzgerald, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Douglas Adams, Erik Larson, and, of course, Norton Juster 'cause PHANTOM flippin' TOLLBOOTH. But lately there's been a shift. I love all of these men, I do. I realized, though, that I was shortchanging a lot of female authors that I absolutely adore.
I noticed this first when I started adding Tana French to my list of favorites. I'm obsessed with Tana French. I read In the Woods shortly after it came out, and from that point forward have pre-ordered the rest of her books so that I could read them IMMEDIATELY upon their release dates. French writes men and women with equal ease, in part because she doesn't go to extreme measures to make her characters sound either male or female. They're just people. I dig that.
|This is actually a terrible|
movie. For the record.
Shortly thereafter, I went through a Joyce Carol Oates phase. 'Cause I mean, she's creepy and I'm creepy. We're a perfect match. Favorite.
Flannery O'Connor? Also creepy and dismal. Favorite.
So I looked back further. What were my favorite books as a kid, aside from every single thing R.L. Stine put out and the Stephen King books I'd lift from my parents' shelves? Well, there was Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, any of the sordid tales of Lois Duncan, the entire Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds-Naylor. Then you've got Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Ann M. Martin, whoever the heck wrote all those Sweet Valley books. Plus, duh, J.K. Rowling. Sweet jeebus, I've been reading women my whole life and I never even noticed!
Also terrible adaptations. Hey, what's the deal here, Hollywood?
And I mean that. I didn't notice. If you had asked me instead of what my favorite authors were, if I read female authors, I probably would have said that I didn't really. I thought I didn't. I, like so many before me, didn't take them seriously. I mean, we almost never read any of them in school, and isn't high school English class supposed to be the measuring stick for what constitutes good, quality literature? The classy stuff that I was taught to appreciate was written by men. Meanwhile, my friends and I would huddle in the corner of the library to pore over the Alice books in relative secrecy, reading aloud to each other in hushed voices and hoping the librarian didn't hear. Books by men were to be flaunted publicly; books by women were guilty pleasures.
But let's face it: Alice McKinley, Karen Brewer, Salamanca Tree Hiddle, Mae Tuck--they taught me more about what it means to live in this world, about the human condition, about womanhood, masculinity, and so on than Jay Gatsby or Holden Caulfield ever could. I've read Steinbeck and Hemingway and Kerouac, but it has always been Paterson and Babbitt and Creech who I've repeatedly gone back to throughout my life, when I needed to make sense of the world around me.
So I'm coming out of the
Man, that feels good.
I'm curious, though. What about you? I added this nice little poll to find out how you feel about female authors. Feel free to elaborate in the comments, or to suggest some books by women that you think I should read. I just read Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, and, aside from the abuse of the word "literally," absolutely loved it. You?