OK – apparently a writer named David Gilmour admitted in a rather off-hand way he “didn’t love women writers enough to teach them” except for Virginia Woolf – whom he liked just enough to keep her away from grubby first and second-year students – but not from third year and above where presumably they’d been indoctrinated enough to learn to ape their instructor’s opinions.
Something like that.
I’m a manly as a grizzly-bear-sandwich kind of writer myself – you can actually have your own body make it’s own steroids from reading a few paragraphs of my stuff. I think what was truly appalling about Gilmour’s manly list of manly writers was his omission of the following manly writers:
Isak Dinesen. Descended from Vikings (‘Dinesen’ translates to “The Frost Giant King’s Headsman”) Dinesen packed up axe, pen and paper and went to Africa where he grew caffeine straight up (dispensing with coffee beans/plants as an unmanly waste of time and resources) and killed lions for the fuck of it. He hung around with Denys Finch-Hatton too – the same Hatton who in his spare time hunted elephants with Hemingway. Why Elephants? Because Dinesen had killed all the lions. In his spare time Dinesen produced “The Old Chevalier” in which an older gentleman spots a tiny, perfect skull and reminisces about his dalliance with a hooker of debatable maturity. Now that’s literature. Read it.
George Eliot. Hairy-Knuckled Testosterone-Driven writing: Thy name is George Eliot. Geo (as I like to call him) started his career with the seminal essay “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists” – giving voice to then then popular discontent with the estrogenic fluffery masquerading as literature at the time. Riding a wave of near-unanimous popular support he wrote Adam Bede and eventually – more famously – Middlemarch. To give you some idea of the master’s commitment to manly literature Bede features a carpenter as the main protagonist, premarital sex, the death of the infant born of that union (the Carpenter is not the father) and – holy shit. This may be the Bible but without the pedantic arguments about contribution and attribution. We know Eliot wrote it. Read it.
George Sand. George Sand wore trousers and smoked cigars just because and didn’t need Freudian explanations for it. What are trousers you say? They’re like pants – only manlier because they are made from rare or extinct animals. If you aren’t manly enough they bunch up and you look very unmanly and everyone can tell. So if you can wear trousers – without bunching – everyone knows you are walking, talking silverback/alpha-dog and will cut you a wide berth. Sand – much like a great athlete – might be best remembered for making everyone else on the team better such as composer Frederic Chopin, writer Gustav Flaubert, and even Victor Hugo. It’s hard to pick one just of Sand’s novels (written in French – just to f*ck with the English) but try Consuelo – which is basically about male morality and mastering any ovary-induced urges towards vice or pinterest.
So there Mr. Gilmour – there’s a little help for ya – from a guy who never took a 3rd year English class.
Is Gilmour a misogynist? Probably more than he thinks he is and probably less than everybody else thinks he is. I am sure some of his best friends are women – just like the rest of us. More likely he – like a lot of writers – is in love with his own opinion. Is he a bad writer because he’s a terrible person? Not necessarily. A lot of grade-A twits write well. Gilmour’s probably not the worst of the bunch.
The thing that made me laugh hardest in this whole minor league debacle was the commentary that ran along the lines of “Mr. Gilmour is a non-tenured instructor”. What’s tenure in the English Department these days? Tongue swirls delivered with just the right amount of enthusiasm? Strict adherence to someone else’s social principals? At least he has that going for him.
You know – it’s funny – I don’t have any real critique of any writer to add to this minor league debacle. I love Hemingway and Fitzgerald and I love Jean Rhys and Flannery O’Conner. I doubt I’d be writing if it wasn’t for O’Conner’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” or Joyce Carol Oates “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”. But mostly I just read. I remember what I like and forget the rest.
Fortunately – for everyone – I don’t teach.
Anyways – Gilmour’s moving into the rear view mirror fast enough. Apparently someone else who can’t write for shit is picking on Alice Munro now. I think the conclusion you can draw from this is that it’s true that it’s harder not to be stupid than it is to be smart.
I’ll be back – but first I have to find a plasma rifle with a bulb in the 30-watt range.