“It’s a Man’s Word”

Weird article in The Daily Beast by a writer called Frank Bill.  Idea is that men are not manly enough these days, so there are fewer manly novels about manly things.

What I don’t know is what he means by “masculine writing”.  Does he mean subject matter–wars and hunting? There are books about those things. Or choice of words–short, blunt sentences?  Like Hemingway, who did both.

Tough to gut it out through lots of words.  Have to fight your way through dense jungles of adjectives and adverbs, hunt down the meaning.  Cut out useless bits.  More manly to use short sentences, or fragments.  But that has drawbacks, too. Can be hard to follow the logic.

Probably, fewer men read than women. So topics are chosen accordingly.  It’s tough, but you have to man up, grit your teeth, and realize that probably, they’ve already won the war for dominance of the bookshelves.


  1. Ugh. His kind is almost extinct. I hope. Why is it people who have to struggle, working three jobs are considered special? They just have to work harder, and that’s no fun.

  2. Children’s and young adult books are written only to young girls by women who send them to be published by women. The Harry Potter books flew off the shelves when young boys in England discovered them because it has a male protagonist. This says that there is a very lucrative market but the publishers don’t want to tap it. When I taught Literature I had to look very hard to find books boys would like and identify with. Barry Sadler’s Casca the Eternal Mercinary series went over well, Mickey Spillane was outdated. Books about horses and dogs did well. My generation grew up reading science fiction and Marvel comic books, today there’s a stigma against nerds and losers that read them, such a shame.

    1. Really? I thought the “nerd” stigma had lessened a bit these days. Guess not.

      When I was young, I read mostly mysteries, as I recall. The Hardy Boys at first, then Sherlock Holmes when I got older.

      And wait, the guy who sang “The Ballad of the Green Berets” wrote books, too? Wow.

  3. I grew up (and remained) female so I can’t say it’s honestly anything I ever noticed until I read this. There is a lack of male protagonists.

    Still, isn’t it somehow sexist to expect different writing styles for the different genders? I forget his name or his blog but just a couple weeks ago there was a post that was Freshly Pressed talking about this same topic. When he actually went and read “fem lit” he was pleasantly surprised with it and now really enjoys it.

    1. I guess it is a bit sexist. The writing style I naturally favor is rather verbose (about as far as one can get from the blunt, “manly” style used in this post) but it is similar to the writing style that almost everybody writing in English, male or female, used back in the 1800s. Styles are just that, and so are always changing.

      I will try to find that post you allude to; it sounds interesting. My personal opinion has always been that there is no “feminine” or “masculine” literature; and that really good literature ought to try to address universal human concerns. Not everyone agrees with me on this, however.

      UPDATE:Is this the post?

  4. The writer and singer of The Ballad of the Green Berets was Barry Sadler who wrote the Casca series (he wrote the first eight and others have picked up the series that had 22 by his death and now there’s 29. He also had a Shooter series about a vietnam sniper turned mercenary.

What's your stake in this, cowboy?