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Friday News: B&N and Simon & Schuster may still be feuding;...

Take The Love Song of Johnny Valentine by Teddy Wayne for example, which went on sale February 4th. The book has enjoyed an all-star media lineup with a daily New York Times review by Michiko Kakutani, NPR interviews on “All Things Considered” and the Leonard Lopate show, and appearances on The Awl, Oprah.com, Vice, in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Gate, PBS, and Interview magazine. While the book is still listed with the ability to order online on the B&N website, an in-store book search reveals that it’s out of stock in stores across the country.

Low print sales are true for the #1 NYT Bestselling book this week, S.C. Stephens’ Reckless. Despite being #1 on the combined list and the ebook list, Stephens’ book is noticeably absent from the print only list which suggests that the main paper book seller in the U.S. may continue to have reduced print orders from Simon & Schuster.   (It also suggests that her ebook sales were massive).  MobyLives

“Men’s novels are about how to get power. Killing and so on, or winning and so on. So are women’s novels, though the method is different. In men’s novels, getting the woman or women goes along with getting the power. It’s a perk, not a means. In women’s novels, you get the power by getting the man. The man is the power. But sex won’t do, he has to love you. ”

Interesting and provocative.  Atwood is making sweeping generalizations, of course.  Isn’t “Perks of the Being a Wallflower” a man’s novel?  And is seeking love gaining power through men? No, of course not.  Byliner

The vampires and their mates are smell oriented. To the hero, the heroines smells of tangerines. So in order to get in the mood, he takes a bowl of tangerines and begins to make love to the tangerines. He really gets into it. The book describes the juices running down his hands and the feel of the flesh of the fruit against his tongue.

Anyway, when I read this post about the toys for long distance partners, I thought that it was too bad that the tangerine hero didn’t have something like this. He might not have had to consume so much vitamin C in order to communicate with his lady love. TechCrunch

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

12 Comments

  1. Deb Nam-Krane
    Mar 15, 2013 @ 04:33:45

    Wow, Margaret Atwood. I guess she hasn’t read any women’s fiction in which the heroine is just as concerned about professional fulfillment as she is emotional satisfaction. Oh right, women don’t want it all.

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  2. DB Cooper
    Mar 15, 2013 @ 06:57:52

    In Margaret Attwood’s defense (I never thought I’d be saying that)

    1. It’s hard to talk about industry wide patterns (or one’s perception of them) without using a broad, sweeping brush.

    2. It’s hard to be an advocate for feminism (or any other social or idealist view) without using a broad, sweeping brush — I think our comments here on DA are evidence of that.

    2b. I’m not sure whether Ms. Atwood would consider herself a feminist, or just a product of her environment.

    3. I think, Ms. Atwood’s polarizing statement aside, the number of times reviews here at DA have pointed to (and complained about) the unrealistic HEA, the unsold “I switched and now love you forever”, the gratuitous “Marriage and a baby carriage epilogue” does lend credence to the idea that there is a pressure for the novel to arrive at a conclusion marked by how much the Hero loves the Heroine.

    Now I won’t quite use as broad a brush as Ms. Atwood did, and I think we all acknowledge that not all “women’s” books end up as she described. Certainly, we’ve mentioned our share of good books that don’t have your HEA. But even having said that, I think there are some of us (in regards to romance) that will say… “It’s not an HEA? Then I at least want a big sticker, or a blurb that says HFN so I know what to expect at the end!”

    I’m not sure I agree with Margaret Atwood. Heck, I’m not sure I’ve ever agreed with her, but I can see where she’s coming from–at the very least, I’d wager there are more than enough authors and stories out there that can fit into her claim.

    (self disclosure: 1. I had to read “The Handmaid’s Tale” in high school and found out that I loved it. 2. Beyond that month or two, I’ve done almost no study into Ms. Atwood and certainly no more reading of her.)

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  3. Mary Anne Graham
    Mar 15, 2013 @ 07:12:18

    I’ve always believed that society misunderstands the concept of male power. Male power is rooted in temporary, illusory things – fighting wars, battling in the boardroom, scrapping over politics. Female power is the real power and it’s rooted in the things that define our lives and make us who we are – building relationships and families and defining how those relationships and families function.

    With all due respect to Ms. Atwood, women don’t get power by winning men. Women get power by valuing, defining and directing the important things in life – their families and how they function. That power, exercised in each household, flows like drops of water, becoming a puddle – a lake – a river – and then an ocean.

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  4. Deb Nam-Krane
    Mar 15, 2013 @ 07:56:46

    I want to know two things: 1. Are Atwood’s books considered “women’s novels”? And 2. If they are, can similar things be said about her books, or are they an exception?

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  5. Lynnd
    Mar 15, 2013 @ 07:57:33

    I just read the whole Atwood essay via the link – her perspective is interesting and thoughtful and it’s worthwhile reading the whole piece – it really is an examination of women’s vs. men’s books and she makes some excellent points (and she does acknowledge that she is speaking in generalities).

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  6. cleo
    Mar 15, 2013 @ 10:21:58

    I read the entire Atwood article and I found it both interesting and perplexing – which is kind of how I feel about Atwood in general. I can’t tell how seriously to take it – there’s this tone where I can’t quite tell if she’s being serious or ironic or both. It’s beautifully written, thought provoking, and probably working on multiple levels. It’s also the type of writing that I don’t have a lot of patience with – it’s too subtle for my Midwestern sensibilities (just come out and say what you mean, dammit).

    @Deb Nam-Krane: I think her books are considered literary fiction. I’ve read three of her books (The Handmaid’s Tale, Cat’s Eye and The Penelopiad) and I’d say that those three are kind of exceptions. In all three, the female protagonist does have or get a man (or more than one) but that’s not the main point of the books, and not the source of the protag’s power or lack of power.

    All three of them struck me as kind of pessimistic about human beings and our ability to be happy and stay happy. One of my undgergrad English Profs made the off hand comment that she’d read all of Margaret Attwood’s books and concluded that she didn’t like people very much – that comment’s stuck with me for more than 20 years, fwiw.

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  7. Ridley
    Mar 15, 2013 @ 13:54:36

    I got stuck on women’s novels vs. men’s novels. Is she describing the novels’ authorship or the intended audience?

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  8. B. Sullivan
    Mar 16, 2013 @ 06:27:03

    If you really want to get more into women’s novels vs men’s novels I’d recommend A literature of their own: British women novelists from Brontë to Lessing by Elaine Showalter specifically because you can check it out on Open Library and read it free online: http://openlibrary.org/books/OL4876046M/A_literature_of_their_own
    (That way if you find out it’s not interesting you, not a problem.)
    It goes into the history of the early women writers and how male critics were all fired up and ready to point out “this is how this is only something a woman would write” – except that they couldn’t always pick out who was female and writing under male names.

    Short version: no one still agrees on what makes a woman’s novel, then or now.

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  9. Jen
    Mar 16, 2013 @ 22:58:44

    I read the Atwood piece as an internal monologue, each number a separate, individual thought. What I liked about it was the lack of authorial “this is”. The generalizations are so open, it’s impossible to defend them. I think what she captures so well here is the conflicted, impossible definition of “women’s novels” and “men’s novels.”

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  10. Fiona McGier
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 21:49:11

    I’ve read a few of Atwood’s novels and no, they are not “women’s novels”, because the focus of the book isn’t the romance of any of the characters. She mostly writes sci-fi of a dystopic variety, so yes, she doesn’t think much of the human race. The Handmaid’s Tale, and Oryx and Crake, along with the sequel, After the Flood, are frighteningly possible dystopias in which there is very little love involved with any of the infrequent, impersonal sex.

    That being said, her idea of men’s power-plays versus women’s power-plays is what I’ve been arguing for years. I’ve said before that when my husband and I were first married, he made me watch Dallas and Dynasty with him, until I pointed out they were “soap operas for men”, meaning the whole point was to identify with the old white men who fought over power so they could have all of the women…or at least the youngest, best-looking one. So I got him to watch daytime soaps with me and he agreed that the main difference was that on the day-shows even the men talked about their feelings constantly, even to each other. Instead of just hitting each other then grabbing a beer together afterwards.

    Husband has now read all of the Game of Thrones books and watches the series on TV. I’m not interested at all, despite his pointing out to me that there are always naked, sexy men with frontal nudity (hey, he knows what I like!) But I don’t care about power-plays, about men fighting each other over who rules a kingdom. That bores me no end, just like the idea of talking about feelings might bore a man. I think that’s the point that Atwood was trying to make…that with power comes sex for male-oriented entertainment. For female-oriented entertainment, with sex comes love and family.

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  11. Deb Nam-Krane
    Mar 18, 2013 @ 06:51:29

    Wait a minute. So “women’s novels” = only romance novels? So all of those novels focusing on women that don’t highlight romance aren’t women’s novels too?

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  12. fiona mcgier
    Mar 18, 2013 @ 23:17:33

    Deb, I’m not sure what else would be called “women’s novels”. Atwood writes dystopic sci-fi that has mostly female protagonists, but can be read and enjoyed by male and female readers. While there are some men who enjoy reading romance novels, most don’t…or have never tried.
    Forgive me if I offended anyone. But other than chick-lit, which I’ve never read, I’m not sure what “women’s novels” would be if not romance.

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