02 June 2009

Men! Some of them like to read! And then they like to talk about it!

There are many things to love about this Sunday Stylesesque Boston Globe article about men's book clubs:
  • The snobbery right off of the bat that a club whose purpose is to "drink beer and read Charles Bukowski" is not a real book club. A real book club contains two things: Tea sandwiches and ladies.
  • The discovery that it is someone's job to write a column entitled "Books for Dudes." Dude, how do you get that job? If enlisted I would quickly abuse this privilege by using the word "dude" all the time, but it looks like author Douglas Lord (o lucky man) does the same thing: I spotted 19 in this column alone.
  • The Page 69 rule, according to book club member and man Ned Pride:
    "There has to be something pretty sick going on on page 69 for us to read the book. Either a sexual encounter or some crazy situation. You can count on it with [John] Updike or [Tom] Wolfe, guys like that."
  • I went ahead and tested this rule with a book I had in reach, Cormac McCarthy's BLOOD MERIDIAN, and it failed! Therefore, Cormac McCarthy: not for men. (On page 69 the boy is being pulled through a market and "traveling medicine show" by soldiers -- not crazy enough.)
  • The ham-fisted attempt to tie book-club participation to the recession ("At a time when men account for nearly 80 percent of the 5.7 million Americans who have lost their jobs") by suggesting that the groups provide both support and networking. Because in a boom economy, no one needs to read.
Much as I would fully support a man joining a book club (friends, brother, the pseudonymous Camus, whoever) this is just silliness. But maybe something good can come out of it: Using the beer-Bukowski model, describe your fantasy of what a book club should be, man, woman or child that you are.

10 comments:

henry said...

This line is my favorite:

"The idea of a bunch of guys sitting around a living room, or in a restaurant or bar, and not talking only about the Sox or their sex lives or their mortgages, but also ruminating on something as abstract as evil while sipping Cabernet, might be hard to imagine."

Ellen said...

That's the classic Sunday Styles straw man. Hard to imagine for whom? People who get all their information about the different genders from stand-up comedians? Aliens? Cathy?

Moonaroo said...

Book clubs are for tea sandwiches and ladies! Anyone who believes this has never attended the Book Club Gone Bad hosted in my neighborhood where there is wine, wine, and more wine, maybe even a lady...

Ellen said...

Moonaroo, I love the title "Book Club Gone Bad." You all should copyright that, it could be the next franchise a la Sweet Potato Queens.

Wade Garrett said...

I for one get all of my information about women from Cathy.

Ellen said...

W.G.: "The idea of a woman judiciously enjoying a box of chocolates, trying on a bathing suit without stress and not having droplets of sweat coming out of her head all the time might be hard to imagine."

8yearoldsdude said...

is bukowski really different from sox/sex/mortgages?

/snob

Ellen said...

There are only so many volumes of "A Dance To The Music Of Time."

8yearoldsdude said...

well played

Wade Garrett said...

Bukowski was a pretty bad example - for that to work they should have used somebody more like Anne Tyler or even Joyce Carol Oates.