Is it really the case that pretty much all the Important Male Novelists of the mid to late 20th-century are such sexist dillweeds that it is actually impossible to enjoy the books, for many intelligent people? That would be a bummer, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Best suggestion for contemporary author of well-rounded female characters, from Tom: Kim Stanley Robinson. I LOL’ed. Shall we consider together?

John Updike, Norman Mailer: self-explanatory. If I get pushback on this I just…I don’t know. All right, The Naked and The Dead is an OK novel but after he turned into the Baron Harkonnen of Important Male Authors his literary credits were retroactively revoked. I read that novel about Egypt twice, don’t y’all make me go there! (Why? Because it was there. No, really. It was at my house. It’s why I’ve read The Tommyknockers twice also. It was at my house and then it was at a backpacker place in Melaka I stayed in when I had wicked jet lag for a day.) Philip Roth: sorry dudes, it just be’s like that sometimes. Saul Bellow: I am not qualified to say! Readers, please advise. Gaddis: aw, aw…goddamn. Did you–couldn’t you just have left out–? There has never been a book I enjoyed so much, that I threw against the wall so hard and hated so utterly as JR. It was devastatingly clear in the first hundred or so pages how unhappy I would be. And yet so skilfully gulled! Don DeLillo: Here quite a decent case can be made that he just hates everyone. And yet–yet–he hates some people more equally than others. Just set him side by side with J.G. Ballard, who truly hates everyone, and you will see what I mean.

Jonathan Franzen: he’s by no means the worst of the lot! He’s just young enough to know better. Some objected below that none of his characters are real, but rather all represent ideas in the fashion of… Look, I yield to no man in my love of Mann. I am a woman who, when packing to go to the beach in Thailand, decided to re-read Buddenbrooks. I know my Mynheeren Peeperkorn, Mr. Franzen, and you have not written a Mynheer Peeperkorn. Also, it is precisely Franzen’s desire to be an Important Male Novelist of the 20th Century that is so grating; he is a squirrel in the “random reward” group of a Skinner-box experiment that investigates how frequently the squirrel will press the lever that dispenses cocaine. D.F. Wallace: a good writer who is not such a sexist dillweed that it prevents one from enjoying his work, and is nonetheless an officially canonized Important Novelist. How satisfactory! He also needed an editor, though. Does no one have an editor? Do they rely on the firm rock of the horrible-looking PC OS to keep them real?
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