Critical Mass

Iron My Book

By Lizzie Skurnick

A few questions about the dirty-white-boy books (and yes, as far as I can tell, the genre of the male midlife drugs-sex-and-losing-everything confessional is populated entirely by white guys.)

Are journalists more likely to have their lives implode, or just more likely to have their accounts of said implosions published?

Why is the Times so fascinated by these stories (two of the four that I read had their first lives in the pages of the Sunday Times Magazine)?

What would happen if a woman wrote the same kind of confessional memoir about busting up a marriage, shucking her kids and spouse like old clothes, diving into drugs or porn and/or ending up homeless? My guess is that the critical reaction (curated, as it is, mostly by middle-aged white guys) would not be nearly as approving.

Author Jennifer Weiner gives an acid rebuke to the critics who only give men, not women, credit for detailing the many ways they’ve &$%-ed up their lives. QED, because a few months ago, Rebecca Traister asked a similar question when Emily Gould’s NYT magazine cover story, which contained nary a hooker nor a porn addiction nor a crack cocaine score, clocked in at approximately 769,909 comments, most of them variations on “shut up.”

This pertinent line from Traister has stayed with me:

We have to remember: There is nothing wrong with women writing about themselves, their youth, their indiscretions, their habits and values and personal development. Men have been writing about this stuff for thousands of years; they call it the canon.

We’ll see if our blog chair Eric Banks even lets me publish THIS!