Spring Cleaning I: “The Way of Shadows” & threats of sexual violence

Greetings, my fellow queer literates!

I haven’t actually fallen off the face of the earth, I’ve just started — of all things — a business selling fetish gear and am actually turning a profit. It’s kind of surreal. It’s also consuming all of my free time, which is why I haven’t had time to read anything except nonfiction books with titles like Online Marketing for Small Business Owners, and even less time to blog about it.

But! Books are my first love and I miss discussing them with y’all folks, so here’s the game: I found a bunch of half-finished writing-about-reading posts that I’d started and then shelved when I couldn’t hammer them into coherent essays. The plan had been to come back and polish them at some later point, but, well, once I’ve moved on to newer and shinier things that’s not likely to happen. So I’m going to be doing a round-up, wrapping up my not-entirely-streamlined essays and tossing them online for public discussion. Your two cents are always welcome! :D

Today’s post is about The Way of Shadows, by Brent Weeks, and how much it pissed me off. If rape is a sensitive issue for you, you may want to skip this one, because WoS fucking button-mashes it.

"THROW HIM TO THE SODOMITES!" and other gems

Brief thoughts on men writing women

I'm about halfway through The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks — it's one of the better things I've read recently, if not particularly original. Were I writing a review, I'd call it "a masterful retreading of old ground."

His female characters, alas, are uniformly one-note, and the book fails the Bechdel test* somewhat glaringly — in that it goes check, check, FAIL.

Sigh, I said. Guess I'll be adding him to the list of otherwise-decent male authors who fall on their faces when it comes to writing characters with two X chromosomes.

And then I had a thought: What if they're not actually good at writing male characters either? They just have a wider palette of archetypes to draw from, so it's less noticeable that they're reusing established character templates? o_O

This bears further consideration.

* Actually, it's pretty hard for anything without a female viewpoint character to pass the test (unless your POV dude is a creeper who listens at keyholes) so I don't hold this against most works. On the other hand, when you DO have women who talk to each other, and yet all they can talk about is men….. yeah.