I know how it sounds, what with all the stuff going on at DC Comics these days, to say nothing about the general He-Man-Woman-Hater’s club vibe that some parts of genre-dom still have (even in writing circles). Hell, anyone who doesn’t know me and sees The Playboy Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy in my goodreads “currently reading” list might well roll their eyes and write me off as a toolbag. But I have a good reason.
Everyone who does know me as a writer, or has read this blog, knows of my love of M. Rickert, Aimee Bender, Carol Emshwiller, Karen Joy Fowler (her short work, at least), and Kelly Link. I’ve recently acquired and devoured collections by Joan Aiken and Margaret St. Clair. My favorite issue of Tin House thus far is 33: Fantastic Women. The only novel I’ve really, truly enjoyed in the past few years was Sarah Shun-lien Bynum’s Madeline is Sleeping. I wish I could write like Lydia Davis, Ann Beattie, and Amy Hempel. I also wish I had Fran Lebowitz’s brain. These writers have really sort of set the bar as far as what I look for in a story.
Sure, there are male writers who do that for me, too. Etgar Keret, Ray Vukcevich, Howard Waldrop, Peter S. Beagle, Harlan Ellison, Raymond Carver, Barry Hannah, and… um… and… and…
See, therein lies the problem.
I might sound a bit disingenuous if you take a look at my goodreads “Favorite Authors” list. You’ll find Jonathan Lethem, Benjamin Rosenbaum, and other dudes and they certainly belong there. But in terms of having the influence that the aforementioned female writers have (or wish they would have), it’s just not there.
And, it’s not like I don’t have the books, either. Which is why I’m taking steps to rectify the situation. They say, “Plan the work. Work the plan.” And, that’s what I’m doing by moving 8 particular books to the top of my reading queue…
For the curious, The Playboy Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy is lower on the queue. But it’s worth mentioning that I got the book because it has a bunch of writers with whose work I need to be better acquainted (Robert Sheckley, William Tenn, Charles Beaumont, et al.).