Carousel #2

Lately, I think I’ve been getting a better handle on posting things more regularly to this blog, which is a good thing. This week, I thought a lot about names and identity and how that relates to my own writing, as well as my own personal tastes and reading habits. I’ve also got a few writing assignments to work on and a short story done that relates to the things mentioned above (which was actually just a coincidence). Hope you enjoy this week’s stops.

  1. A place where people try to one-up you on what you’ve been reading? This video clip makes Portland seem less like just a strange place on the other side of the country and more like a completely different planet.
  2. Surreal short short story: Thieves.
  3. I read a fantastic essay by Kathleen Alcott on names and why naming is so important to our identity and who we are as writers, especially.
  4. A hilarious short story about a woman giving birth to a laptop: Angela’s Baby.
  5. More Angelas appear!: Continuing with my Jean-Luc Godard run, I watched Une Femme est une Femme, suggested by Angela, who shares her name with the main character. It’s quirky and very amusing. You can watch the memorable book scene on Youtube. Although, the subtitles are far from perfect from what I can tell, unfortunately.
  6. There was this gender breakdown of the biggest literary journals that got a lot of writers and editors talking. And it got me thinking about the continuous cycle of social injustice and my own personal reading habits.
  7. My dear friend Nikki started a blog chronicling her adventures in professional floristry. It reminded me of my own little garden I had as a kid, and how I aspired to be a botanist once, before I even had the idea of writing a story instead.
  8. My other friend Tracey now posts her artwork online, and it’s all incredibly lovely. It’s been amazing to see her journey as both an artist and photographer. It also reminds me of how frequently jealous I am of people with such beautifully precise spatial skills – something I have always lacked entirely.

Read More Female Writers!

When it comes to dealing with other people’s reading habits, something that has always bothered me is the way so many readers of fiction largely ignore women writers, whether consciously or unconsciously. I always think to myself: I must be dreaming! This is 2012, and this is still going on? Yet I’ve encountered (and continue to encounter) quite a few male readers who simply just don’t read any at all (maybe a short story by Flannery O’Connor or two, and maybe some Joyce Carol Oates, maybe). It just seems really extraordinary to me.

Obviously, there is something to be said here about patriarchy and how women have been stifled and silenced throughout history when it comes to writing, philosophy, the arts, the Western canon, etc. The other day, I came across these statistics that detail the gender breakdown of contributions to the biggest literary journals around. Shocked? Well, I suppose you could reasonably guess the results without even looking. I know I did. But the gender disparity is still fairly alarming regardless, and the divide is far more gaping than I imagined. There have been several responses to these statistics already, with both editors and readers alike trying to come up with possible solutions to address these problems. Other relevant questions might be: How many men actually submit to these magazines in comparison to women? If more men do (which I suspect is the case), why is that? Do women still feel powerless in their attempts to become great literary writers, or is their attention simply focused elsewhere? Or both?

I remember once coming across a particular male reader’s blog discussing how few women writers he has given the time of day. It went something like this: “I’ve noticed I don’t read female writers at all, but I think that’s simply a coincidence. It’s just the type of books I like.” Honestly, with all the women writers I can name (even those considered “literary”), I don’t think that’s a very convincing argument.

And what about the newer and upcoming online literary journals? Is this disparity the same for them, or is it becoming more equal? This is just based on my own observations (no official statistics here or anything), but I do suspect there may be a much more equal gender representation among these journals, than say, The New Yorker.

With that said, I think it would be great if people actively tried to search out more books by female authors this year. As of now, I’ve only read one novel so far, but at least I can safely say that that is, in fact, just a coincidence (back in 2011, I actually read more female writers than I did male writers). There are many on my to-read list already, and I look forward to getting to them. Particularly Carson McCullers, who I’ve grown to love very much recently.