The Right Coast

August 03, 2004
Guy Lit
By Tom Smith

I'm thinking of doing a post on "guy lit." My premise is that English departments, bookstores, the whole cultural infrastructure has marginalized the sort of great or near great books that many guys would enjoy. Instead, there are an infinite number of novels about the family lives of minority persons struggling with their new lives in NYC/London/ whereever. The Joy Luck Club, etc. etc.

So send me your suggestions about books that arguably qualify as literature on masculine themes. So for example, war, big game hunting, crushing hard labor, survival, racing cars, climbing, dogs and fighting Communism, come to mind. Credit will be withheld, upon request.

Lots of questions arise. Hemingway, of course, but which books? Some of them suck. Anything by Mailer besides The Naked and the Dead? What are the best gut wrenching memoirs to come out of WWII? Speak, Darkness? With the Old Breed? Anything else? There must be tons of books out there for men and boys that just don't get mentioned much anymore because they're just irretreivably un-PC. I remember some series of WWII books I read in junior high about war in the Philippines that left my mouth hanging open for days; probably not on the shelves anymore.

But not just war. However, I do think guy books tend to be about stuff. My lovely wife Jeanne reads novels that always seem to be about the relationships among people all of whose lives suck. That is not a guy book.

So, suggestions welcome. Maybe a truly shattering post-meme will arise out of it.