Of Chick Lit and Grit 

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I enjoyed John Rasmuson’s June 11 riff on Tom Chiarella’s Esquire piece on man skills [“Skill Set,” City Weekly]. I realize it is all in good fun, but I felt forced to squawk about his comments in the “Name a Book That Matters” section.

This is the quote that got my goat: “Women are hooked on Stephanie Meyers’ vampire romances, so I suppose a savvy guy would skim Twilight or New Moon before a party.” Maybe—if it’s high school ingénues a man wishes to chat up (entirely plausible in the Beehive State).

If you want to talk books with me and most of the women I associate with—at a party or otherwise—you’d best talk something of substance. Not that there aren’t dizzy broads who read nothing but fashion magazines, ghastly chick-lit and romantic vampire books, but there are also many who read stuff of substance and grit.

Right now, my teenage daughter is finishing On the Road. A woman friend is reading the multi-volume novel Remembrances of Things Past. I just finished a book of Stegner essays. We are all faithful Cormac McCarthy fans, a writer Rasmuson cited as a masculine-type author. We also read the likes of James Crumley, Ian McEwan and other “manly” authors too numerous to list here.

Guess it’s just a sore subject with me. Shortly after arriving in Utah, I was in the process of finishing rewrites on a novel of my own. Whenever the subject came up with a native male, I was invariably asked if I was writing a romance novel. No. It’s a Faustian tale set in the gritty Austin blues scene of the ’70s and ’80s.

That usually left them without much to say—Rasmuson’s original point, I reckon.

Linda East Brady

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