Climbers makes it into the Bloomsbury Good Reading Guide 100 Must-Read Books for Men.
So what’s wrong with us?
You are expected to buy 100 Must-Read Books for Women, of course. Now I am off to write the script for my new Channel 5 show, Survive to Kill!.
The male stuff encourages us to “Push the Envelope.” With this, we’re meant to “Think Outside the Sox”:
Sorry to go on about this, but you know that there is no female equivalent. Bastards. What about 100 must-read books? That’s what several of your books are. Must-read full stop.
Anyway… well done. It’s excellent. Just excellent. I’ll give a copy to all the men I know, and point at the women I know and laugh shamelessly.
Nothing wrong with women, Lara, but ‘100 Must Read Books For Men’ is the first book of its kind – as there’s ‘Women’s Hour’, a female fiction category on Amazon and The Orange Prize, I didn’t think anyone would mind if I wrote a guide to books men might enjoy. Exclusivity is good for diversity as it encourages us to respect difference (the root of diversity) by allowing the same, so I make no apology for writing a book that implies exclusivity.
No female equivalent? You’ll have to ask my editor about that – when I suggested ‘100 Must Read Books For Men’ to her, she immediately saw the gap in the market and (suprisingly) didn’t commission an equivalent for women. Why not write one yourself? It’s an opportunity.
My main motivation for writing the book was to recommend a lot of great books that I’ve found in my 25 year career as a bookseller seem to have a particular appeal to men – that doesn’t mean I don’t think women can’t enjoy them. Apart from the obvious appeal of ‘Climbers’ to men, I merely wanted to recommend Mike’s book to readers who may not know his work.
Incidentally, Mike, if you’re reading this, you might remember staying at my place in Bath back when ‘Climbers’ was first published, after you and Garry Kilworth appeared at Waterstone’s, where I worked at the time. What a good night that was!
Best Wishes, Stephen E. Andrews
Good grief. Hi Stephen. I do remember that night, now that you remind me. 18, 19 years ago ? Anyway, the last days of Unwin Hyman, when they still felt it worthwhile to tour minor authors…
Thanks for choosing Climbers for 100 Must Read Books for Men–although I still think it’s a weird choice, given the content! I’m leaving you & Lara to have the ideology of it out, because we’ve already discussed it by email.
Stephen, Can I be a bit cheeky? I’m going to write a blog about this over at my site. It’s the best way to raise the ratings: filch the viewers of greater bloggers. So, if you wanna join me over there, I’m going to respond to you about 100 must read books for we birds.
And, um, thanks for replying. I felt a bit ashamed for making a fuss. I think it’s wonderful MJH’s Climbers is recognised in this way. My favourites are still the short stories, no doubt about it, but Climbers is a fine read.
my God! and I’ve only just realised who you are.
even more humbled…
now where’s that spade while I go dig myself in a bit deeper…
Hi Mike – it has been a long time. It must have been 1989, as I remember thinking that the hardcover publication of Garry’s anthropomorphic fantasy ‘Hunter’s Moon’ would be a good excuse to get him and you along to Waterstone’s Bath…and it was easy as Unwin Hyman rep Jim Crawley lived next door to me. I’d already hosted successful signings with Mike Moorcock and Chris Priest at the shop, and as Waterstone’s were inclined to indulge enthusiastic booksellers then if you thought you could turn a profit, I went ahead. It was a good night, I recall, with you reading ‘Egnaro’ and our little party enjoying a great Indian meal afterwards before the inevitable ‘back to mine’.
I’ve kept up with your work since –which I’ve continued to enjoy enormously. I included ‘The Centauri Device’ in ‘100 Must Read Science Fiction Novels’ and will probably replace it with ‘Nova Swing’ if the book goes to an expanded revised second edition (a couple of years from now, I’d say). I’ve written a piece about another of your novels for my next book (out in September 2009), after which I’m hoping to escape from ‘Must Reads’ for a while to write the novel I’ve been threatening for decades. What’s it going to be like? Well, as you wrote next to the title ‘The Great God Pan’ in my copy of the anthology ‘Prime Evil’, “Another masterpiece of Modern ‘Orror”. Good to be in touch again.
Lara – I hope you’re humbled by Mike, not me! My favourite pieces by MJH tend to be shorts as well, incidentally. Decades after I first started reading Mike’s work, stories like ‘The Ice Monkey’ , ‘The Ash Circus’ and ‘A Young Man’s Journey To Viriconium’ (not to mention more recent shorts) still really do it for me.
I will keep an eye on your blog and may make an appearance there, but quite frankly, I’ve spent the last three months discussing the whole gender/reading thing (my own fault I guess) and I’m a bit weary of the whole thing.
The main reason I wrote the book was because I wanted to write about the work of authors I really felt passionate about, yet couldn’t find another banner to hang above such a disparate group of writers and hope to be published. In my long experience as a bookseller, I noticed that a lot of men loved books by said authors, while women generally didn’t like them, so that’s where the commercial idea of the book and its title come from. Many of the books I include can be read and enjoyed by all sorts of people, but I wrote about the elements of them that I feel have a masculine appeal. I knew that by going with the Books For Men title, I’d have to justify and explain my motivations repeatedly (which is a bit sad, as in a truly egalitarian, mature society, no-one would question the concept), but as I say, I’m weary of the whole explanation thing now. The book is there, people can read it first and judge it later and I make no more excuses for it – if people (even if they are only men) discover authors like James Salter and Dino Buzzati because of the book, I’m happy. Besides, I have to get on with my new book which is already behind schedule.
So if I do appear on your blog, it’ll be because I’ve caught up – plus I don’t presume to know about the internal, subjective elements of women’s psyches to make a comment on what should go in a hypothetical ‘100 Must Read Books For Women’, even though some women have made presumptions about ‘Books for Men’. Ultimately, I think people should just read more and take some chances – that’s the way I became widely read.
Best wishes to you both!
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