I read two short stories today. My intention was to take a few days to read these stories (in the same magazine but by different authors), but the stories pulled me in and I had to read them to the end.
They must be good stories if I wanted to find out what happened.
But I don’t want to tell you what they were. I don’t want to call anyone and say, “Hey! You gotta read this.”
They were the kind of stories that made me double check the authors’ names for gender. Suspicions confirmed (male!), I checked the contents for more names. (Several males. A couple females.) I hate checking though. I want to read a story and not care. I want to check the name because I want to find more by that writer. Do you check the writer’s name? What are you looking for in a name when you do?
I don’t believe that having more of one gender in a group automatically means sexism. My first thought on finishing each story was on how I disliked the characters. All the characters.
Maybe the problem isn’t the editors picked more men. Maybe the problem (for me) is that they pick stories with so many unlikable characters.
Not that characters have to be likable. But I’m into the third story and I don’t like the guy in that one either.
Is the problem me?
Does a good story mean you want to read all the way to the end? Should you want to share the story too?
3 thoughts on “I don’t like you & I’m not going to share.”
I don’t like it when I can’t tell if the author liked their characters and intended the reader to like them too, or if the author was intentionally creating unlikable characters so as to create tension in the story.
I haven’t tracked if it’s men or women writers who seem to do that to me most often. Probably equal parts of both. I think a lot of it depends on your worldview, and who you think are nice people in real life and we surely translate that into what we read.
But it just goes to show that not every writer will appeal to every reader, but that there’s enough of an audience to go around. 🙂
You’ll have your group, don’t worry. Just write. 🙂
It’s true that the writer may like the character the reader hates. We don’t all like the same people after all. And the writer knows more about the character too. You’re probably right that both men & women create their equal share of dislikable characters. I don’t think they’re wrong to do so, but reading several stories in a row without any character to care for was just tiring.
This was one of the things I worried about when you were thinking of going for an MFA. Not to stereotype them, but it seems that joy and wonder are played waaaaaay down in such programs — as though misery and perplexity were the only “real” emotional states.
I can ride along a pretty good distance with an unpleasant character or two. But too much of that just feels as self-indulgent as someone writing about nothing but Pollyannas and President Bartletts (from The West Wing — an impossibly GOOD president).