Thursday, September 3, 2009

Story in Bull: Fiction for Thinking Men

I don't publish a lot of fiction, at least not yet, but sometimes it happens.

The most recent example is my story "Foolish Time" in the online journal Bull: Fiction for Thinking Men.

Editor Jarrett Haley does not offer a one-size-fits-all approach to who thinking men are, or to what men's fiction should be. He is nonetheless speaking to a clear divide between mainstream publishing, particularly in literary fiction, and much of the male population.

The conventional wisdom in publishing can be summarized as "men don't read" or "men don't buy books." In response to proposal that two friends and I once made for a book targeting men, a literary agency assistant's rejection including the observation that men instead spend their money on "beer, lottery tickets and sex." This comes as news to me and to most of the men I know.

A second problem with those statements is that mainstream publishing, in spite of its dire financial situation, offers relatively little for men to read. Most of us can't relate to the upper bourgeois dilemmas of men usually portrayed in a New Yorker story. We additionally go a long time between the appearances of writers such as Thom Jones or Marc Nesbitt with something to say about the experience of men who feel burdened, cornered or simply "had" by the difference between what they were told to expect and where they find themselves.

Publications like Bull and various independent publishers are trying to meet needs that the mainstream largely ignores.

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