Thursday, November 13, 2008

SLAM dunk

Little bit of basketball talk, there, for the old husband.

Nick Hornby is maybe the best male writer around. I typically read the chicks, just realized that, other than Stephen King, and he has a unique style. It's fluid and graceful and heartfelt.

I read HIGH FIDELITY a million years ago and loved it.

(*the movie does not do it justice. this is typical, I think, the only movie I've ever seen that is better than the book is Shawshank Redemption and most movies of books are downright awful plus if you watch a movie made from a book hm that sounds wrong it should be inspired by a book it wrecks the magic. you'll only know what I mean if you read a lot.)

Back many moons ago in Tyler's Calgary apartment** I saw another Nick Hornby book and thought god, I have to get that. I didn't, and he fell off my radar for a while. My fault completely and I am abjectly sorry.

I am in such a haze of tired (for example, tonight, when I took Stella to Costco for a perfectly delicious meal of a hot dog and poutine, I left my bank card in the cash machine and it ate it up) that I don't even remember ordering his book SLAM from Amazon. Maybe I'm sleep shopping. I know it was a pleasant surprise when it came in the mail, and I unwrapped my new Amazon package. I put the book on a pile and tried with ZEN blah blah (I'm trying Tyler***, I'm just soooo tired and I'm pretty sure I need to be able to think for that one. I hope it's not too upsetting, I don't have much left in me right now.)

As I said previously, I picked it up for a lark and (let me ask one of the staff writers from Gossip Girl to join us now) OMG - it was freaking fantastic. Laughed out loud, I mean LOL (for whatever reason I like acronyms in general except LOL. probably because it took me until six months ago to understand what it meant because no one actually says "laughing out loud," while many many people do say oh my god, in a kind of valley girl way), cried silently, and was massively sad when it ended.

Let your fingers do the walking, people. Amazon is cheap, fast, friendly, and it will remember your credit card number so it really is painless.

(sorry for all the bracket thoughts. I excuse myself from rational and decent writing until this renovation is finished. Jade says my writing is annoying when I use so many brackets but it's my blog.)

**This is not the Tyler who occasionally comments on this blog

***This is the Tyler who occasionally comments on this blog


Tyler said...

***Yeah, I know who I am ;)

I do find it funny that you refer to Hornby as the best "male" writer around. Imagine if you read a blog by a man who referred to, oh, let's say, Candace Bushnell as the best "female" writer around. Doesn't that automatically polarize the writing community? Doesn't that infer that male and female writing are two different categories? What if someone said that James Baldwin is the best "coloured" writer?

As an undergrad I once said that George Eliot's Middlemarch was the "reason I didn't read female writers," which was justifiably met with dropped jaws, popping eyeballs and silence. I've since reconsidered my somewhat adolescent position on the subject, but I was once guilty of a similar crime. What sets Hornby's writing apart from Bushnell, or Kinsella, or any of the other popular female pop-fiction writers? What sets him apart from Denis Johnston or Chuck Palahnuik?

Sorry, now I'm blogging on your comments page.


spinregina said...

Tyler, I was serious when I asked you about the use of commas and "too."

But the thing that sets Hornby apart from Bushnell is that he is a man. I'm not sure it's a bad thing to qualify on gender lines; we are, after all, men and women, and I certainly don't mind being called a woman, or a woman writer, or whatever. Just not spinny.

I'm trying to think of how to explain better what I mean but the baby was up from two to four so my brain is malfunctioning. I'll have to reach deep into my women's studies past for this one.

Without really thinking this through (and this nearly always gets me into massive trouble), I would argue that if I were to say that in my humble opinion, PD James is the best writer around, Ruth Rendell the best female writer, and Nick Hornby the best male writer, that wouldn't make you happy either. But it's been only once in my life where I was surprised by an author's gender (SHE'S COME UNDONE, Wally Lamb, I still think he must be a woman)because fundamentally, I think it's the most crucial part of who we are. I can tell I'm sliding all over the place with my thoughts here. What I mean is, I guess it comes down to: do you believe that whether you are male or female impacts who you are as a person? I believe that yes, it does, and whether that is because our world is not perfect or because it would always be is what it is.

More later.

Tyler said...

As far as the "too" thing goes, I think you say in the parentheses after the example that you put commas in after the "too," when you actually put them in before it? Anyway, if you really mean whether you should put them in before, I would say no. For instance: "I think that he should stay out of my business too." The general rule is to use commas to connect two independent clauses (a subject and verb) with a conjunction (and, but, so, for, because, however), but let ease of reading be your guide.

Back to subject:

That makes sense to a certain degree; I agree that gender is important, but there are perhaps two points where I disagree:

First, I don't think that we should distinguish based on gender. I used to do that (as previously mentioned) and eventually learned that I was wrong. There are many female writers whose writing could easily be mistaken for male if one were to read without authorial knowledge; George Eliot is a good example, as are Ayn Rand, Iris Murdoch, Ursula K LeGuin, Pat Barker, and even Mary Shelley (the latter of whom many theorists try and fail to analyze with feminist theory.)

Secondly, although I agree that gender and sex dictates our identities to a point, I think that writing is where those identities can melt away. As you've pointed out, Wally Lamb's writing could easily be mistaken for female writing (whatever that is.) Although, I think that my parenthetical aside is the real point: what is "female writing" or "male writing?" I know that if we were to refer to the classic writers that answer would be obvious: writers like Woolf, and for simplicity's sake, Hemingway. But in the postmodern era those lines have blurred. Where, for example, does queer lit fit in? Can a man write Chick Lit?

Wow. I feel like I'm writing an essay now. Or at least notes for one. But I think you get my point. I think what I'm really getting at is that perhaps the difference doesn't lie in the writers, but rather the genre in which they are writing.

lotusloq said...

Wow! Interesting! I think men can write chick lit and that women can write male lit. A talented writer could write many things well, but I think chick lit comes more easily to a woman--that sort of thing.

I've never read Hornby. I'll have to pick up one of his books and see what I think. What would you suggest as a first Hornby read?