Esquire Announces Plan To Publish 'Fiction For Men', Is Mocked On The Internet

25 comments
Esquire Announces 'Fiction For Men'

via New York Times

Sometimes, an idea succeeds or fails based on how its presented. Let's take, for example, Esquire magazine's announcement that they'll be putting out an eBook series called Fiction for Men

How does David Granger, the editor in chief of Esquire, describe men's fiction? As work that is “plot-driven and exciting, where one thing happens after another. And also at the same time, dealing with passages in a man’s life that seem common.”

Sound the alarms and wake the internetz, it's time for some outrage

But really though, if Esquire is planning to devote more space and resources to fiction, how is that a bad thing?

The magazine has solicited short stories from Aaron Gwyn, Luis Alberto Urrea and Jess Walter for an eBook anthology to be released next month. That'll coincide with new works to be published in the June/July issue of the magazine, by Lee Child and Colum McCann, as well as a collaborative piece by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill. 

The announcement was met with a lot of snark, like this gem from Twitter user SarahNicolePrickettGlad men are getting their own fiction category. Must've been so exhausting searching thru the entire goddamn bookstore

Like I said, I'm in favor of anybody paying attention to fiction, and Esquire is a men's magazine, so you can't really blame them for playing in their wheelhouse. Though, I can see how people would be put off by the branding.

Sex and gender issues are a touchy subject right now, thanks to the political climate and gender-dividing marketing campaigns, like those shockingly dumb Dr. Pepper Ten commercials, which suppose that products for men need to be "manly" and they're not safe for ladies, or something? I don't know. I don't understand those commercials. I also don't understand why people drink Dr. Pepper. It tastes like dead clown.

Anyway. What do you folks think? Is Esquire deserving of some scorn here, or is this being blown out of proportion? 

(P.S. Jon Hamm has nothing to do with the announcement. It's just that when I think of manly, I think of him.)

Rob Hart

News by Rob Hart

Rob Hart is the class director at LitReactor, as well as the associate publisher for MysteriousPress.com. He's the author of The Last Safe Place: A Zombie Novella, and his short stories have appeared in publications like Shotgun Honey, ThuglitCrime Factory, and Needle: A Magazine of Noir. His debut novel, New Yorked, will be published by Polis Books in June 2015. He lives in New York City, and you can find his website at www.robwhart.com.

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Comments

ReneeAPickup's picture
ReneeAPickup from Joshua Tree, CA is reading A truckload of books. May 22, 2012 - 6:18pm

I don't know what there is to be outraged by. Esquire is a men's magazine, who else would their target audience be?

No one gets upset with Cosmo for only featuring sex scenes from romance novels and chick-lit.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Acceptance May 22, 2012 - 6:20pm

Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...Tucker Max?

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. May 22, 2012 - 6:25pm

I love the taste of dead clown.  Especially cherry dead clown.

I will never buy Dr. Pepper 10 based soley on those commercials.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading The Bone Clocks May 22, 2012 - 6:26pm

I think this is insulting... to men.

ReneeAPickup's picture
ReneeAPickup from Joshua Tree, CA is reading A truckload of books. May 22, 2012 - 6:41pm

I am not familiar with all the authors listed, but when you look at it, are Colum McCann, Lee Child, Stephen King and Joe Hill really in the same category as Tucker Max? And I guess some men may find it offensive to have a "genre" named for their gender that they may not enjoy, but it is nothing new. Take a look at "Women's Fiction" and ask yourself if it seems a fair and balanced selection of things women may like to read.

I don't think this: As work that is “plot-driven and exciting, where one thing happens after another. And also at the same time, dealing with passages in a man’s life that seem common.” Says very much. A fair amount of literature would fit into this in one form or another. It has a plot and a male protagonist. Okay. 

Bret Gammons's picture
Bret Gammons from [I'd prefer it if you didn't know. So would you, only you don't know it.] is reading Whatever he has time for this week. May 22, 2012 - 6:44pm

Dr. Pepper is delicious. I guess I should try me some clown. Those Ten commercials are shocking, though.

Esquire should have probably simply called it fiction. Still, I'm in the "that's their audience for everything, people" camp.

The Cosmo comparison is especially apt, Sparrow.

Vinny Mannering's picture
Vinny Mannering from Boston, MA. USA is reading On Fiction Writing May 22, 2012 - 7:18pm

Typical Jezebel.

A men's magazine is going to start publishing fiction. Considering it *is* a men's magazine calling it "Men's Fiction" seems a bit redundant. That is until, of course, you consider that 80% of fiction readers are, in fact, female [1]. So perhaps Esquire was simply trying to assuage its readership that the fiction will follow the same male focus as the rest of the magazine.

To attack a generation of men for the fact that their great-great-grandfathers didn't write more "Women's Fiction" is utterly and completely asinine; which is modus operandi for the majority of Gawker sites, but I digress. Attacking Esquire for giving its readers more to read is petty bullshit, especially since the argument boils down to the semantics of calling it "Men's Fiction." 

Apparently there's no more real issues for "feminists" to worry about...

 

[1] NPR

derekberry's picture
derekberry from South Carolina is reading Eating Animals May 22, 2012 - 7:36pm

Honestly, there is already "women's literature" which comes with a strange notion that all other literature is not for women? Plus, most chick lit is droll and shallow. Even the empowered female characters only take a chapter or two to fall in love.

I don't think it's entirely wrong to market a book or story toward either men or women, but just because it is marketed as such does not mean the opposite gender can read said stories. I don't really think either "men's fiction" or "women's fiction" genres should exist, since men have so many different tastes as do women. Not every woman wants to read romance and cozy mysteries. 

But despite my personal feelings, I think this men's fiction would be marketed toward older men who would not normally read unless the author is Tom Clancy, the sort who liked "The Expendables." Which is totally fine. It will simply inspire more people to read, a different demographic whose favorite stories are not always considered "literary." If that was Esquire's plan, then why not?

Also, I agree about weird sexist commercials. They're weird... and sexist.

jacks_username's picture
jacks_username from Louisville, Kentucky is reading A Song Of Ice and Fire May 22, 2012 - 7:38pm

I'll read anything with Jon Ham on the cover.

Sandra 'Rivvy' Rosie's picture
Sandra 'Rivvy' Rosie May 22, 2012 - 7:41pm

As a feminist, I'm not particularly outraged by them calling it "men's fiction", as it's fiction mainly focusing on aspects of men's lives, but I'm not sure it needed to be called anything other than "fiction" at all. I mean, does a book have to have claws and teeth and be wrestled barehand to the floor before it's suitable for men? And does women's fiction, or chick lit, need to be covered in chocolate and have cute little babies to be deemed suitable for women? There's no reason other than advertising for things like books to be gendered at all, and while it's annoying that that stereotype is being perpetuated, I for one don't expect anything better from a magazine that is pretty much the embodiment of the stereotype.

I'm much more worried about their definition of "men's fiction" - "plot-driven and exciting, where one thing happens after another."

So... that's different from "just fiction" how?

Tim's picture
Tim from Philadelphia is reading approximately eight different books. Most unsuccessfully. May 22, 2012 - 7:48pm

Wait! Esquire is a men's magazine? When did that happen?

Yeah, no, sorry. Esquire screwed the pooch on fiction a long time ago and they only point out their ignorance of their own history with this little marketing ploy. Esquire used to be known for its fiction, think Hemingway and Fitzgerald, etc. Now it is known for its scratch and sniff drop-in cards for cologne.

Caitlin May Spivey's picture
Caitlin May Spivey from Portland, OR is reading On Monsters by Stephen Asma May 22, 2012 - 7:49pm

My panties aren't exactly in a twist about this. I just think it's stupid to gender literature. Just categorize it into genres. That's what they're there for. Of course, people have a tendency to gender genres too, which is annoying.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks May 22, 2012 - 8:24pm

I thought the outrage was going to be over the fact that he described it as plot-driven with things happening one after another. Isn't that literally fiction? I guess I'd rather argue semantics than fight about feminism.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. May 22, 2012 - 8:44pm

where one thing happens after another

That's the best idea ever.  Chronology is so awesome.

Kimber's picture
Kimber from Atlanta is reading N0S4A2 by Joe Hill May 22, 2012 - 9:00pm

Oh for Christ's sake, pipe down, haters and trolls. Esquire is just catering to its established demographic and I don't care what anyone says, as a magazine junkie who subscribes to an unhealthy number of publications, I honestly believe Esquire still has some of the best quality writing (fiction and nonfiction) you'll find in a glossy. Granted, it's sandwiched between scantily clad women, but I, ahem, get it for the articles. I applaud them for supporting creative fiction and breaking new writers.

It has already put out several paper-version anthologies of fiction featuring authors like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Cheever, Roth, Carver, and Updike. It's always been a men's magazine. The only thing different here is that it's an ebook. Let's settle down.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading The Bone Clocks May 22, 2012 - 9:55pm

I like my fiction like I like my women: plot driven and exciting.

Also, Tucker Max? More like Denver Max.

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions May 23, 2012 - 7:08am

edit...

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Lexington, Kentucky is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 23, 2012 - 10:03am

I'm going to wait to read this before having an opinion. I would however love to see a work on being a man in America today. I'd like it to have a bit of my boss is a jerk, I have a good but confusing relationship with my gf/wife, and a strong but still reasonable devotion to a sports team. You do see that but it seems to be the back drop instead of the focus.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy May 23, 2012 - 11:32am

How could another market, especially a large, probably high-paying market, possibly be a bad thing?

This is definitely blown out of proportion. If Cosmo said they were printing fiction for women would there be the same type of reaction? Of course Esquire is going to gear fiction towards men. It's a men's magazine. If you believe that men and women will necessarily read the same type of stories, then you are being ridiculous. When was the last time you saw a bunch of men gathered around the romance section of a bookstore?

This is really a non-issue, and if it helps promote fiction reading amongst men, a demographic that it is sometimes difficult to get to read fiction, then I am all for it.

Dr. Pepper 10 is delicious. Who cares about the commercials? Commercials are inherently sexist and are almost always geared towards one sex or the other.

Tim's picture
Tim from Philadelphia is reading approximately eight different books. Most unsuccessfully. May 23, 2012 - 12:17pm

Hey, Kimber, who died and made you den mother? I thought the idea of a comment section was to pipe up and state your opinion. How about you quit the name calling and drop the condescending attitude. It will make it easier for people to realize you actually make some good points.

I haven't cracked open a copy of Esquire since the 80's so it may have become more like "Maxim for independent readers" and less like "Details for guys who didn't yet realize they were metrosexuals". And while I'd love to see a popular glossy mag that promoted quality fiction I'm just saying Esquire's got some work to do to make me believe they are the publishers to do it.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy May 23, 2012 - 2:27pm

Are they really naming a genre, though, or are they naming a series for marketing purposes. That's where I think people are getting out of hand. When I see comments like "glad they are getting their own fiction category" or "renaming of a genre" I think we are getting a little off base.

McDonald's didn't rename the hamburger when they made a Big Mac. This is branding in attempts to drum up interest and make money by a single publisher. It isn't an attempt to seize an entire genre of writing. I can't imagine why people would think it would be, or that Esquire would even have the pull to do so.

Anyone that has a problem with this ought to also have a problem with Chick-lit and Women's Fiction, both of which are their own categories or sub-genres when you look for markets to sell fiction. I have flat out seen anthologies and markets that want writing that caters specifically to women and women's issues. What is the difference?

 

 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Lexington, Kentucky is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 23, 2012 - 4:10pm

@Jack - If it puts out lots of really bad works it would be bad. I don't think this will, but it could.

Vinny Mannering's picture
Vinny Mannering from Boston, MA. USA is reading On Fiction Writing May 23, 2012 - 4:35pm

@sjdufrechou - Men's Fiction is not the same as pulp fiction. This is a common misconception (and/or oversimplification) that sites like Jezebel make to creating controversy where there is none (and accumulate page-views). Men's Fiction doesn't need to involve private eyes, femme fatales and gallons of single malt. It also *gasp* doesn't even have to be written by men. Take a look over at BULL, a men's fiction website/semi-annual for some great examples of what Men's Fiction actually is. 

Ray Richards's picture
Ray Richards from Michigan and Iowa is reading The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson May 23, 2012 - 6:43pm

They dug up some Hunter S. Thompson stories?

misskokamon's picture
misskokamon from San Francisco is reading The Moonlit Mind June 4, 2012 - 6:04pm

I think dividing up anything based on gender is stupid. All we end up doing is talking about the OTHER gender. Why not just roll it all together, and talk about each other with each other? 

But I'm not terribly offended they're releasing a "Fiction for Men" thing. I want to know what they mean by "For Men," because the manliest thing I've read so far was a gay romance novel. That's not an insult to men's fiction or gay romance, I'm being very honest here. There were gun fights. Explosions. Death threats. Action! Tight jeans!

I'm all for people being proud of their gender, so long as they don't belittle the opposite sex. Men's fiction is an interesting idea. Now, if it was labeled "No Girls Allowed Fiction," I'd have a problem.

The Dr. Pepper commercials ticked me off. And the kiosk at the mall that sells shirts pisses me off, too. They have a shirt that says, "Cool Story, Babe. Now Make Me a Sandwich." If ever there was a table I wanted to flip, it is the table with that shirt.