Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Men's Fiction: Are they for real?

There's a magazine called BULL: Men's Fiction. I saw their table at AWP, did a double take, then promptly forgot about it. But then someone mentioned it today on Twitter. So I clicked through to the site. According to the About page:

BULL is the first and only journal devoted exclusively to Men's Fiction. What Men's Fiction is, however, is open to interpretation. The aim of BULL is to showcase exemplary stories of men's interest, with hopes of promoting a greater definition of the genre. In any case, BULL is a home for fiction that is smart, bold, brazen, and unabashed, not trite or trashy. This is the sole intention behind our tag "Fiction for Thinking Men."

I am really wondering: Is this satire? It's not strictly limited to male authors (the current issue has at least two women in the lineup, if names are to be trusted, out of 14 authors), just "men's interest." Still, if it's for real, I'm perplexed as to why this is necessary. First of all, I can't imagine it's really the first and only venue devoted to men's fiction. Across the vast oceans of time? Secondly, men's voices and interests are hardly underrepresented in all the regular journals. What does it mean? Are they kidding? I'd believe it if you said they were. It is called bull.

22 comments:

  1. My opinion: failed satire. (As in... how would all you women feel if we turned around and created similar organizations...) Why failed?--because real satire addresses real social problems. The underrepresentation of men's interest- writing in mainstream pubs is not a real problem. Thus BULL is LAME (Lame Attempt at Masculine Empowerment)--that acronym is just for you Elisa, since you're a fan of the redundant acronym... but see how I reversed it. Pretty subversive--huh?

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    1. Also a fail because plenty of "similar organizations" already exist.

      That acronym is a gift!

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  2. "When I googled 'Men’s Fiction' and up came little more than gay erotica sites, I knew something was lacking. It was sad, really, and frustrating." --from this interview

    lol. apparently this is serious.

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    1. "part of me just wanted to read and publish stories I thought men would like. I was tired of hearing that 'men don’t read fiction'–something thrown around a lot in commercial publishing. Well, maybe if men had a place they could trust for good work that appealed to them, they might read it for chrissake."

      I just don't even know.

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    2. "In our 7 months I’ve seen maybe 7 or so submissions by women. I don’t really know how to account for this."

      I'm dying.

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    3. "I’ve always considered writing as a direct injection of thought into another’s consciousness." A money shot on their consciousness, if you will.

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  3. When I saw this table the only thing I thought was, "The first rule of Fight Club..."

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  4. "One more. Okay. Homer. There’s plenty of ‘em."

    There sure are. I still think it's attempting a Colbert sort-of thing...

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  5. I won't remotely claim to get it, but my take is these editors want to both play with the man/woman "divide" and also poke fun at the trope of man as caveman--hence the no trashy work (by which I'm assuming no softporn hetero fantasies)--and try to get past that trope.

    I, personally, have major issues with same-sex as basis for editorial decisions (how awesome to have most of the work be by women!)--as inevitably huge swathes of the demographics for men or women won't get airtime--and with every new day I'm arriving at agreement with those who question sex as the most primary marker of difference.

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    1. Have you heard about the hysterical girls with tics in NY state?

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  6. "Fiction for Thinking Men." Yeah, because as we all know, we men mostly don't think...

    "The first and only journal devoted exclusively to men's fiction." I'm not taking this as satire. I'm taking this as lacking (perhaps) depth and breadth of experience in the world and particularly in the world of writing.

    Even if you were to set aside, for the moment, all of the issues about bias toward men (or away from women) in magazine after magazine for, oh, how many centuries... There have still been the various pulpish and "true story" men's [sic] adventure fiction magazines, just to name one example, that have popped up on the newsstands over the years. At one time during the 20th century, such magazines were a staple for younger writers (or older writers who were new to writing) to publish short fiction ("pot-boiler" stuff) and get an occasional check in the mail, while they pounded away on their future best-selling novels.

    I mean, seriously. Have these guys never read, or heard of, Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, or Dashiell Hammett, or...?

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    1. It's pretty astounding. Check out the Pank interview linked above if you want to shake your head until it falls off.

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  7. The exclusive men's fiction I recall most immediately often started out with some sentence like "I'm from a small midwestern college and never thought ...".

    On second thought, I have a feeling that that writing was not as exclusive as I thought and/or am thinking. Most of it though, assuredly, was probably fiction. Best,

    tpeterson

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  8. Oops, the awesome to have mostly women contributors bit was meant to mean coolcool for a "man"-focused zine to mainly feature women, as surely the other can get the mainstream at-least as well as the center.

    It's kinda amazing that to my knowledge there's one gay male poetry review--which I won't be submitting to unless it goes lesbian. It's less amazing, I guess, that there's one lesbian venue I know of--Sinister Wisdom; it'd be rad if there was wayyyyyyyyyyy more crossover between there and standard chic po-biz journals.

    Hmm, or maybe it makes sense there aren't many homosexer journals: bodily identity is massively problematic as editorial decision-baser and perhaps "the" queers are hyper aware of this?

    Ok I must be kidding, there are anthos; tho I'd wager anthos and journals are not the same dynamic.

    I hope all's well for all ya'll!

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  9. I've always liked macho fiction by Jim Harrison and Bukowski et al.--part of me wants to be a whiskey-quaffing, shotgun-toting Cormac McCarthy protagonist--but I've always preferred fiction and non- about sex from a woman's point of view. Susie Bright, Erica Jong, etc. Anaïs Nin's erotica is much more interesting to me than Henry Miller's. Women control sex, the only thing worth controlling, the reason we do everything we do. "Men's fiction": that sounds as boring as "male bonding."

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    1. There's a very funny Gore Vidal essay about Henry Miller's Sexus.

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  10. Have I read that? Where Vidal wonders why none of the characters ever interrupts Miller's pontificating with "Henry, you're full of shit"? Where he says, "They're too busy having their lives changed"? Vidal is great at wittily lacerating other writers. A Randall Jarrell of prose. Martin Amis is like Vidal in that respect.

    I enjoyed the Rosy Crucifixion Trilogy, actually.

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    1. There's an excerpt from it here: http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/cato-of-the-antipodes/

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  11. Gosh, you've gotten such a better response here than my piece on Paper Darts. My Facebook is aflutter with people are upset that I'm upset (even though I reckon that my post was fairly even-handed and I really tried to give Bull the benefit of the doubt). Envious of this group of blog followers you have! And VERY glad that we weren't the only ones to feel icky about this.

    Thanks for bringing this post to my attention.

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    1. Likewise, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought something smelled funny. (And believe me, I've dealt with my share of upsetness about my upsetness....)

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