I’ve been slacking up on the blogging and link collecting, cause I’m very busy at the moment. Nonetheless, I do continue to come across interesting links, so here are some of them. Lots of sex and gender discussion this time around.
The Toast has two great articles on the sexist abuse that many female writers, creators and artists (as well as GLBT creators and creators of colour) are faced with, particularly when they dare to promote their works, by YA writers Sarah Rees Brennan and Malinda Lo. There is nothing really new in either article, which is depressing in itself, because we should not be having the same conversation over and over again with ever increasing lists of links to point at and still get people, mostly men, claiming that there is no sexism or racism or homophobia in [insert genre or media here]. Nonetheless, this needs to be said again and again until things get better.
This year’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner, La Vie d’Adèle a.k.a. Blue is the Warmest Colour by director Abdellatif Kechiche has now hit the US and predictably caused some controversy, because the three-hour lesbian coming of age tale contains sex and rather a lot of it. Of the various articles in the US press about the movie (some of which are linked above), I particularly liked this one from The New Yorker, which hypothizes that it’s not the amount of sex or some potentially problematic behind the scenes stuff that has so many people upset, but the fact that the sex scenes in La Vie de Adéle are more realistic (not to mention – gasp – lesbian) than either the typical soft focus, soft-core Hollywood sex or the furniture bumping, decidedly unpleasant HBO sex. Now I haven’t seen La Vie d’Adèle nor am I likely to, but I suspect the author may be on to something there.
While on the subject of sex (cause that always brings links and clicks – yeah, I’m that mercenary), indie mystery author Anne R. Allen offers a slightly belated response to the Kobo/W.H. Smith uproar (which I blogged about here and here). Her point is basically that maybe indie authors should go easy on the sex and the swearing, because either might upset someone somewhere in the now global e-book marketplace and trigger another crackdown on indies and besides, there is an erotica fatigue going on, at least according to one agent at the Frankfurt Book Fair (just as there was a chick lit and a paranormal and a dystopian fatigue before it, only that all genres still sell well, though not in the numbers they once did). Lots of people agree with her in the comments, including one name that will make the eyes of any regular romance reader shoot upwards.
Now Anne R. Allen writes cozy mysteries, a genre that is traditionally low on sex and swearing, therefore including a lot of either would probably not be appropriate for her readership. Nonetheless, I don’t think it’s a good idea for indie writers to practice preemptive self-censorship and forego writing about sex and swearing altogether, especially since it wouldn’t have helped in the case of the current uproar either, since Kobo pulled everything, including children’s books and Christian fiction, and W.H. Smith and Whitcoulls will no longer carry indie books either way. Now I believe that sex and swearing and violence (which no one ever complains about for some reason) are part of life. And therefore I will write about these things, when it fits the story. Besides, one of the things I like best about going indie is that I am no longer dependent on some editor’s decision that “bullshit” is too ofensive a word for the tender sensibilities of their readers. I usually include warnings in my blurbs for anything that might upset someone (though I only warn for heavier swearing, not for “damn” and “shit” and one or two instances of “fuck”, because that strikes me as silly).
Though in general, both Anne R. Allen’s post and the La Vie d’Adèle article illustrate just how different attitudes to sexuality are in the US and continental Europe (cause the UK sadly seems to be leaning towards the US model or maybe it’s just David Cameron and his government).
Another writer left us last week who was pretty much the polar opposite of Doris Lessing, for humorist Hermann Gutmann died aged 83. Now there is a high likelihood that you will never have heard of Hermann Gutmann, even if you’re German, because he was an intensely regional writer, a local celebrity in Bremen and the immediate surroundings and virtually unknown elsewhere, even though he sold approx. 200000 books over his lifetime (which means that almost every second inhabitant of Bremen owns one – I definitely do).
Hermann Gutmann was a prime example for the fact that Bremen has a very strong tradition of regional literature, both fiction and non-fiction. There even is a name for art and literature about Bremen, Bremensie. I’ve always liked this, especially since I’ve never heard of Hamburgensien or Berlinensien or Kölnensien or Münchensien, though all of these cities of course have local literature. But only our local literature has an actual term for it.