The (Imagined) Woman Reader and Male Anxiety

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“The Contemporary Male Novelists fear the Female Reader is no longer willing to interpret rampant misogyny as searing self-portraits of mangled masculinity, but rather as just more misogyny and who needs it? Their livelihoods threatened, the CMNs are doing the utmost in their narratives to tell the imagined female reader that they are at least hyperaware of their own utter self-absorption. So nowadays ‘female characters get to remind the hero that he’s a navel-gazing jerk, but most of the good lines, and certainly the brilliant social and psychological observations, still go to the hero.'”

Over at Bookslut, Jenny McPhee responds to Elaine Blair’s recent NY Review of Books article on American male novelists and their fear of being unloved by the female-dominated reading audience that keeps the publishing industry afloat. McPhee also dives deep into the more historically inclined The Woman Reader, Belinda Jack’s new book, which “explores the manifestation of this anxiousness historically” – from Babylonian city-states through the Middle Ages to now.


Graham Todd is an intern at The Rumpus. He spends his mornings writing post-apocalyptic, vaguely biblical sci-fi horror comedy, his evenings tutoring the wide-eyed youth of the Palo Alto area, and his Thursdays at The Rumpus office, effectively “off the streets”. Beyond this weekly ritual, he enjoys karaoke, the movies, and jogging. More from this author →