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fictional manfiction

Stephen King has an article over at with the provocative title “Who says real men don’t read?”

It’s no surprise that somebody of King’s stature gets gigs like this. He takes an hour or so, writes a column, hits a button and off it goes to EW. Then he  trots off to the bank with a check. And I’ll bet it’s not chump change, either.

I don’t begrudge King anything, you should understand. It sounds like writers’ heaven: Anything he cares to write, he can sell. After a while it must be tempting to test that hypothesis.  A quick  idea pops into your head, bang out five hundred words and voila, it shows up in print.  Maybe  it’s  the most concise, insightful little gem on the appeal of writing mysteries, or it could be some nutty piece of misleading fluff about chicklit v manfiction.

As is the case here, where King might have  decided on this particular column like this:

Hey, why don’t I set up some false dichotomies about fiction and readers, and then once I’ve created enough confusion and chaos, I can plug my favorite books.

I happen to agree with him that Lee Child has a really great series going with his Jack Reacher novels. I do not agree that this is manfiction. Women like stories like this. Women especially like Reacher. Conversely, not all women like Nora Roberts.  Some women (and some men) might like both, or neither.

storiopathy: the sad diagnosis

The thing alcoholics and drug addicts have in common? Denial. And isn’t that true of any addiction? Even ones that don’t involve mind-altering substances. Such as storytelling.

If a story I’m following gets cut off unexpectedly, I go into withdrawal. The three last pages of a novel have been removed by some dastardly would-be comedian; a television show is yanked in mid season; an earthquake requires that the theater is evacuated. To me all of these are equally unnerving, because I’m left dangling. Even if I can surmise the ending with some certainty, I need to see it happen.

Except in one situation. In a long, drawn out serial presentation, I often need to know before the writers, directors, producers want to share that information. I am, in short, a spoiler junkie. I want the story when I want the story, but it’s also true that you telling me won’t be enough. I still have to read it or watch it for myself.

Is there a ten step program for people like me? People who simply won’t take no for an answer. Those last three pages of that novel are available to somebody, somewhere and so there’s only one logical thing to do: two a.m. googlespasm that lasts until I’ve found those pages, or have given in to crushing defeat. In which case, there’s always overnight delivery from Amazon.

You see how dedicated I am to my craft? (And if that argument works, stop reading right now.)

I know I’m not alone in this. I have had phone calls at eleven at night from people frantic to get hold of the season three premiere episode of Farscape. This is my own fault, as I lent them season two. What choice do I have but to drive across town and deliver the season three dvds. Because I know what that’s like. I understand it. I am the person who keeps checking iTunes to see if they are going to make the rest of the episodes of Canterbury’s Law available. It seems to have been canceled in midseason, without resolving some really crucial story lines. I want to know what happened. I insist on it.

Hi, my name is Rosina, and I’m a storiopath.

This term was coined (as far as I have been able to trace back) by Michael R. Weholt.

Here’s my prediction. If you are a storiopath, you’ll go read Michael’s post on the subject of storiopathy and immediatley need to know more. Trying to resist? Here’s how it starts:

In 1983, in Paris, a woman found an address book lying in the street. She picked it up and later photocopied it, then returned it anonymously to the owner whose name and address were indicated inside.

Using the photocopy, the woman began contacting the people listed in the book.

Earlier, the French daily Libération had offered the woman part of its front page to use however she wished for an entire month. The woman told the people she was contacting that she wanted to use what they had to say about the unknown man, the owner of the address book, a man she had never met, to build a portrait of him. Over the period of a month, she told them, she would use what they had to say about him to construct a portrait of that man on the front page of Libération.

This apparently delighted the people she had contacted. They said that if it was anyone else but the man in question, they would never participate in such a thing. But they said since it was this man, they would do it. They said he would love it.

If you can STILL resist the pull of this narrative, you are not a storiopath. Now, does that strike you as a good thing, or a bad one?

another kiss, via updike

and how in her narrow kitchen her great silvery breasts had spilled from her loosened Shantung dress into his hands as simultaneously their mouths fused in the heat of first kiss… ((Updike,  Beck is Back))

John Updike is known for his unusual turns of phrase and imagery, but before I get to that:

The last example I posted (the infamous honey jar kiss) many of you found revolting; nobody seemed to find it evocative at all. Someone pointed out (quite correctly) that it might have made a different impression in a greater context. But I still think this is useful as an exercise because what you notice — what jumps out at the reader, his or her first reactions — are important. So in this very brief take on a kiss, how do your reactions differ from the honey jar example? Or do they?

kissing (again, but not so long winded)

So tell me, what kind of reactions do you get to this?

Holding her slick neck in one hand, he kissed her as if licking a honey jar clean while the hot water hammered their necks and put a flush on their skin… ((LaVyrle Spencer, Homesong))

Does the imagery work? I’m not going to say anything at this point, because I’m very curious about how this works for you all.