Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Guest Post by Joe Schwartz, A Season Without Rain

Why Men Must Write


Joe Schwartz

I have a goal as a writer; strike that. To quote the immortal Blues Brothers, ‘I’m on a mission from God’ to get guys reading again. When did it become so uncool for dudes to read anyway? It is hard goddamn work to write anything, much less something good enough, that deserves to be read by others. There was a time being a writer was an ultra-badass job to have and considered dangerous as driving race cars or being a spy. So when did being a writer become synonymous with being a pussy?

            This trend for watered down prose came with what I’ll call the formulaic novel. You know them. Every character is referred to by their full name the first time they’re mentioned and each one is about as deep as a kiddie pool in the dessert. They are almost always of practically infinite means, stunning good looks, and it seems their biggest problem is having great, unprotected sex on yachts, in mansions, on vacation in Monte Carlo, or while aboard a private jet. Give me a fucking break!

            I’d rather get a rectal exam sans the lube than read a James Patterson novel. If I were on a desert island with nothing to read but the Twilight trilogy, I would burn them for warmth then piss on the ashes. Locked in a cell with Fifty Shades of Grey I would fashion the pages into a noose and try to hang myself. I am sick to death of trite romance stories disguised as mystery and paranormal fiction. Give me Carrie or The Girl Next Door any damn day rather than these blabbering, idiotic nonsense novels as good for reading as extreme nachos are for dieting.

            The time is ripe again for the next Donald Goines or George V. Higgins to come along and scare the hell out of us telling tales that seem much too real to be fiction. Men need to start reading stories written by men again. Although most readers are currently women, I hope that they’ll give a sharp poke in the ribs to their men in bed at night, push a book under their nose, and tell them you need to read this. And they will. That is the nature of men, to do whatever it takes to make their wives or girlfriends shut up. But I believe something remarkable will happen. Men will start wanting to read again.

The soft novels featuring ghosts, vampires, and werewolves will always have an audience. There is, however, ample room for stories about guys digging their own graves and unable to stop themselves. Breaking Bad did just that and middle class white males couldn’t get enough. Elmore Leonard, may he rest in peace, was an absolute aficionado of writing the guy novel, as is Cormac McCarthy and Chad Kultgen. It’s not about sex or even violence for men, its men truly about men acting like men. Sometimes you get your ass kicked and occasionally you get lucky when you should get what you deserve. More importantly, it is the language of men. I can no more write what it feels like for a woman to find the man of her dreams delirious at the prospect of having his children than a woman can write how it feels for men to simultaneously lust after and hate a woman. There is a special language we men use that is filled with vulgarity but an imagery we know well, that we learn at the armchairs of grandfathers, under the hoods of cars with fathers and uncles, in converted basement bedrooms of friends with access to several used copies of Oui, Penthouse, Playboy, and Hustler. To say our stories are the same is like saying there is no difference between a dog or a cat except one shits in a box and the other the yard.

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