01 February 2011

Open for discussion: a shenpa moment

So I'm minding my business, reading the New York Times, and there's a review of Allison Pearson's new novel. This led first to a moment of feeling really old, because I thought, "Pearson. I know that name. She had a big-deal bestseller a year or two ago..." only to find out from the review that, um, yeah, that was in 2002. So after a brief shocked head-shaking about how quickly time does go by, followed by a restorative glass of sherry, I kept on reading. And I soon found, as we feminists are wont to do, something to get angry about.

Clunky as this plot machinery might be, Ms. Pearson does a winning job of making Petra and Bill...as funny and incisive as characters created by, say, Nick Hornby or Stephen Fry, though with considerably more tenderness and felt emotion.

Now it seems to me that this is a fairly classic and insidious example of condescension--"Good little chick-lit novelist! Why, your characters are just as good as the big boys' are, plus your lady-ness gives you bonus! emotional! insight!" ::headpat::

Ahem. The question is what to do with this perception besides wrapping my next fish purchase in the NYT. I went with, "Write a blog post, mentioning that this thing happened and pushed your buttons a bit." Which is where all y'all come in. I'm interested in your thoughts, on other ways to read the sentence quoted above, or just on your own reactions to it. The full review is here.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if it helps, because you know I'm like uber sensitive about this kind of thing. But I saw the same thing you did.

    I assume it was unintentional, or more or less unconscious, but I'm pretty sure that makes it more worrisome, not less. (The best authors you could find to compare were two dudes? That was the only way you could convey how good the book was?) Doesn't really help.