Random bookish links

1.  Amy at Amy Reads has a thought-provoking post on racial diversity in Canadian publishing.

“While attending the session on Women in Publishing on Saturday [at BookCamp Toronto]  I couldn’t help but also think about minorities in publishing and in published books in Canada, and how so much more is needed in these areas. When I mentioned this later on during the after party to someone who had presented in another session he simply laughed and turned away – why is this? I’ve heard numerous times that Canadians just aren’t willing to talk about issues of diversity, and I find that to be true. We love to flaunt how multicultural we are and celebrate that, but when it comes down to actual studies and statistics of our policies and offerings, as a country, we seem to be quite silent.”

Amy is going to compile statistics to analyze diversity (or the lack thereof) in Canadian publishing, and she’d like to hear from people in the industry. Please contact her if you can help!

2. Amy also has an insightful take on the masterful man trope that increasingly dominates the PNR romance genre.

“Over and over when I read these books I see the typical plot moving device:

Step 1) Girl pushes guy away, says no, she’s not interested or doesn’t want him or etc.
Step 2) Boy is insistent, forces himself on girl.
Step 3) Girl realizes that she actually loves boy so it’s a good thing that he pushed himself on her.

Let me just try to explain why this is so incredibly damaging and hurtful. Over and over we as women (as victims of any gender) are being told that our no really doesn’t mean no. That it doesn’t have to mean no. That sometimes no isn’t really a no and that it’s not a bad thing when someone ignores our no and forces us to do something we don’t want to do. The truth of the matter, and it should be very simple, is that this is rape and / or sexual harassment (depending on the extent to which he forces himself on her). We are taught that we should be grateful someone pushed us, and that if our bodies react to the assault it is somehow something that we want or that we should appreciate and be thankful for. So we try to stay friends with the person who assaulted us, we try to ignore our feelings, because we think we must be wrong.”

3. YA author Uma Krishnaswami has a great response to  Sandip Roy’s ode to Enid Blyton.

“…as a writer working in the trenches of the children’s publishing market I’d take him to the (yoga) mat over this sweeping generalization: Children’s fiction has long become obsessed with depicting reality. Broken homes. Race relations. Adoption. Religious intolerance. Drugs. If it’s not about the pressing social issues of the day, it has to be educational – about history or inter-faith harmony or metaphysics. It has to teach something.

4. A characteristically razor-sharp, fact-fuelled answer from The Rejectionist to Lipsyte’s NYT moan about the lack of books for boys  (links in excerpt below).

“So, you know, whatever. A person stumbles across an internet link at a late hour, the link is Old Dude Thinks Ladies Are the Problem: this is not a new story, in the history of stories. Why this particular column rubbed us so far the wrong way is a mystery–maybe it was the general reek of condescension (“The current surge in children’s literature has been fueled by talented young female novelists fresh from M.F.A. programs who in earlier times would have been writing midlist adult fiction”); maybe it was the mental image of Mr. Lipsyte in a (custom, no less) baseball jersey; maybe it was that fucking illustration. We are no fan, as regular readers know well, of the White Girl Het-Loves Monster Cash Grab that is the bulk (but certainly not all! and fair exceptions, how we cherish you!) of contemporary commercial YA; but we are not fucking dumb enough to argue that the problem is vagina. The problem, y’all, is who’s in charge–and who’s in charge was not, last time we checked, the ladies.”

5. Still relying on Amazon reviews? According to the New York Times,

“Sandra Parker, a freelance writer who was hired by a review factory this spring to pump out Amazon reviews for $10 each, said her instructions were simple. “We were not asked to provide a five-star review, but would be asked to turn down an assignment if we could not give one,” said Ms. Parker, whose brief notices for a dozen memoirs are stuffed with superlatives like “a must-read” and “a lifetime’s worth of wisdom.”

Oh, man.

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6 responses to “Random bookish links

  1. The three steps listed in that romance genre article totally reminded me of Hindi film formulas where the heroine starts by hating the hero’s attention and ends up predictably simpering in his arms. So much truth there.

    Also I have to admit I turn to Amazon reviews frequently for a quick convenient look at book/product reviews- got to rethink that strategy :)

  2. Thanks for sharing the two links from my site. I have no idea how much progress I’ll make with the first one, it seems to be snowballing a bit in an attempt to get to a point where I could even reasonably expect to be given the data. Oops :) But it will be a fun challenge!

    I love the other links you share as well. Fantastic.

  3. Yes, I saw that article about five-star reviews (Lindsay Buroker linked to it on Twitter). Scary.

  4. @ Nupur: I go to amazon for reviews of baby products, so I’m really irritated by this.
    @Amy: Looking forward to your findings, Amy.
    @Ela: I need to follow more Twitter people!

  5. Thank you so much for writing this post! I’m especially interested in Amy’s two posts and will be reading them tomorrow.

    P.S. I found your blog through Rabid Reads’ Canadian blogger page. It’s nice to meet you!