Wednesday, May 24, 2006

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

Guy lit summarized
Here, then, is a summary of guy-lit novels:

I may be 30, but I act 15. I am adrift in New York. I'm too clever by half for my own good. I live on puns and snide, sarcastic asides. I don't look too deeply into myself or anyone else everyone else is boring or a phony anyway. I may be a New Yorker, but I am not in therapy. I have a boring job, for which I am overeducated and underqualified, but I lack the ambition to commit to a serious career. (Usually I have family money.) I hang out with my equally disconnected friends in many of the city's bars. I drink a lot, take recreational drugs, don't care about much except being clever. I recently broke up with my girlfriend, and while I am eager to have sex, which I do often given the zillions of available women in New York, the sex is not especially fulfilling, and emotions rarely enter the picture. I am deeply shallow. And I know it.

Oh, and then something happens. I go on a journey, get inside the media machinery, sort-of fall for a new girl. Or 9/11 happens, but that doesn't really affect me much either. And though I might now mouth some bland platitudes about change, anyone can see that I'm still the same guy I was before. Only different. But not really.

From Michael Kimmel's scathing review of the genre in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

posted by Dan on 05.24.06 at 11:57 PM


Of course, if this review were correct, quite frankly I wouldn't give a damn...

posted by: It's me! on 05.24.06 at 11:57 PM [permalink]

I honestly think the authors are on to something, even if it's not a particularly beautiful or readable something. Dismissing the juvenile self-absorbtion of American males between the ages of 22 and 30 is an unwise idea. The transition from boyish gratification and self-absorbtion to manhood traditionally progressed along the lines of career, marriage, fatherhood. I don't think those well-trod paths have quite the same pull as they did in generations past. I think lad lit is the outgrowth of a society in which men are powerful yet directionless, with nothing more to guide them but the satisfaction of individual desires. In fact, as much as I hate to say it, Cartoon Network, the penis monologues and rotisserie baseball teams are not nearly as scarce as Laura Miller would like to believe. The review comes across as the protest of a stodgy academic against a genre that, for better or for worse, has its roots in an atomized social reality that truly exists.

posted by: Adrian on 05.24.06 at 11:57 PM [permalink]

The best male lit seems to be written by military veterans, rather than snotty little boys from fancy schools.

IMHO, of course.

posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 05.24.06 at 11:57 PM [permalink]

I disagree with the review; I thought Kunkel and especially Lipsyte were hilarious. And hardly chick lit, though Kimmel's right about the unsteadiness of the transformative moment in all of these books. But perhaps that's because there isn't an obvious transformative moment like that big wedding or a bang-you're-mature-now in psychic lives of most guys. It's a problem for plot, but it doesn't mean that the small victories vel non can't be interesting too.

posted by: David on 05.24.06 at 11:57 PM [permalink]

"bang-you're-mature-now in psychic lives of most guys."

Well, no, since for women it's actually "bang-your-pants-are-bloody" and it requires absolutely no effort or personal growth for it to take place and complete itself.

posted by: Jim on 05.24.06 at 11:57 PM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?