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Numbers

There's a meme going around, to list fifteen authors who had a lasting influence on oneself. Not to overthink it.

I got off to a bad start with this meme because the very first list I encountered had no women in it. Not one in fifteen.

***

It took four people to get me a prescription renewal today, not counting anyone at the pharmacy: two medical students (confused by the computer system), one GP to sign off on their work if it ever printed, and a front office staff member capable of fixing the printer's paper jam. There must be a light bulb joke hiding in there: none of the people with medical training were capable of dealing with a common printer problem.

***

Bakka-Phoenix books in Toronto is moving from Queen Street to 84 Harbourd - where Atticus Books used to be. They open again for business on Wednesday November 3rd: conveniently in time for me to check out their new place when I am next in Toronto!

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
the_alchemist
Oct. 27th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
Sure, there have been more published male novelists than female ones...

Ooh, interesting. I think my assumption has always been that it's about equal. Do you have a link to figures?

Edited at 2010-10-27 03:19 pm (UTC)
owlfish
Oct. 27th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
No, and by the time you made your comment, I had deleted it because it seemed like a separate discussion to me. An interesting one, but one which would have taken much longer to write!

The recent discussion on Torque Control (blog) about the lack of female SF authors with current book contracts was in my mind when I wrote it, but women dominate lots of other writing fields, from urban fantasy to cookbooks, so I don't know how the overall numbers work out.

Relatedly, in the survey Farah Mendlesohn did for The Intergalactic Playground, participants could *remember* the names of more male authors from their childhood than female; again, however, science fiction, not literature more generally.

I was assuming historical prejudice would drag the numbers toward men: in past centuries, it was certainly easier for men to be published than women; but women did - and still do - game the system to a degree by using androgynous names or male pseudonyms. (And men use female pseudonyms often when publishing in female-dominated literary markets.)

Edited at 2010-10-27 03:30 pm (UTC)
the_alchemist
Oct. 27th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
I was assuming historical prejudice would drag the numbers toward men: in past centuries, it was certainly easier for men to be published than women;

But was it easier for men to have *novels* published? I'm pretty sure I've read eighteenth and nineteenth century men sneering at men who wrote novels because they seen as a frivolous, effeminate art form fit only for women, though I can't remember any of the specifics.
owlfish
Oct. 27th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
Ahh. That would be the other reason I deleted it: the version of the meme I saw only specified authors. Most people whose responses I have seen have been more influenced by novelists than other kinds of authors, but by no means exclusively.

Hmm. Part of the reason it's a challenging question is because I suspect there have been more male novelists with good marketing budgets and thus higher profiles: but that doesn't tell us anything about actual overall numbers.
owlfish
Oct. 27th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
Earlier today I was trying to look for a source for a long poem by "A Lady". Typically unhelpful, but at least gendered.
chickenfeet2003
Oct. 27th, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)
Most people whose responses I have seen have been more influenced by novelists than other kinds of authors, but by no means exclusively.

Curious. 4/15 on my list wrote at least one novel but I don't think any of them would be thought of, primarily, as a novelist.
owlfish
Oct. 27th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
I wonder if we can even conclusively calculate this for today: self-publishing and small presses would confuse the number-gathering. It should be straightforward to big presses-only, but that's not the whole picture.
chickenfeet2003
Oct. 27th, 2010 03:30 pm (UTC)
You need a GP to diagnose the printer problem, an anaesthetist to turn it off and a surgeon to actually clear the jam. You may also need a physiotherapist to check that it's working properly post surgery.
sartorias
Oct. 27th, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
Mine would be mostly women.
ashfae
Oct. 27th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
...wow, that was startling. My aunt used to own a bookstore named Atticus Books, before B&N drove her out of business. It was in North Carolina, though. I'm sure it's not as uncommon a name as I assumed.

My list would be mostly women, come to think of it.
geesepalace
Oct. 28th, 2010 02:37 am (UTC)
I did the 15 book meme a bit over a year ago. It was one of the first things I ever posted on facebook. It's also about the last, but it is still there, under "notes". It has only 3 novelists, one of whom was my only female, Jane Austen.

(Mark Twain's opinion was somewhat different. He wrote this about a ship's collection: "Jane Austen's books, too, are absent from this library. Just that one omission alone would make a fairly good library our of a library that hadn't a book in it.")
stonecircle
Oct. 28th, 2010 08:54 am (UTC)
Any medical training does not include a course on printer illnesses.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )