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Anita_Diamant
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant



Carmenere_lady wrote:
Hi Anita,

Something has been on my mind. I understand artistic license but I am curious about the variation you made in your book regarding the marriage of Leah to Jacob.
I remembered the story differently so I checked Newadvent.com (catholic) and Jewishencyclopia.com and both agreed on the circumstances of their marrige. Greedy Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah so that Jacob will need to work for him for 7 more years to earn Rachel.
To me, it doesn't matter one way or the other, but to feed my curiousity, please let me know if your story in The Red Tent was found somewhere else or your imagination. If your imagination, why the slight variation?
Thanks, Carmen




Great question.

The Red Tent is told from the imagined perspective of the women. You will find MANY such changes in my storytelling when compared to the bible. It was my goal to give the women the agency and power we have always exercized -- often privately if not secrectly. Beides, I found it hard to imagine that these women would submit to such a plan (tricking a husband) without being involved in the plot -- or even hatching it!

Thanks for asking.
Anita
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Carmenere_lady
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant



Anita_Diamant wrote:


Carmenere_lady wrote:
Hi Anita,

Something has been on my mind. I understand artistic license but I am curious about the variation you made in your book regarding the marriage of Leah to Jacob.
I remembered the story differently so I checked Newadvent.com (catholic) and Jewishencyclopia.com and both agreed on the circumstances of their marrige. Greedy Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah so that Jacob will need to work for him for 7 more years to earn Rachel.
To me, it doesn't matter one way or the other, but to feed my curiousity, please let me know if your story in The Red Tent was found somewhere else or your imagination. If your imagination, why the slight variation?
Thanks, Carmen




Great question.

The Red Tent is told from the imagined perspective of the women. You will find MANY such changes in my storytelling when compared to the bible. It was my goal to give the women the agency and power we have always exercized -- often privately if not secrectly. Beides, I found it hard to imagine that these women would submit to such a plan (tricking a husband) without being involved in the plot -- or even hatching it!

Thanks for asking.
Anita




Wow! I would have never thought! It amazes me how authors can be so focused as to stay in period and get into their characters so deeply, to see (imagine) things from their perspective. I had never considered how women may have worked behind the scenes in the bible. Real or imagined it's going to enrich my reading of the good book in the future. Thanks Anita :smileyhappy:
Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


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"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
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Peppermill
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant

[ Edited ]
Anita -- first, thank you for your responses to my and other participants questions throughout this entire board, not just on this thread. Your involvement with us here in this book club is deeply appreciated.

Second, as I recall, you entered your profession as a book author from the the direction of journalism. Would you share for us a bit of your journey and how you perceive training, experience, opportunities, interests, mentors, publishers, and other factors you consider particularly relevant have interwoven to bring you to where you are today as a writer? What has most or particularly influenced your movement from one topic to another?

Message Edited by Peppermill on 11-06-2007 07:45 PM
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Anita_Diamant
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant



Peppermill wrote:
Anita -- first, thank you for your responses to my and other participants questions throughout this entire board, not just on this thread. Your involvement with us here in this book club is deeply appreciated.

Second, as I recall, you entered your profession as a book author from the the direction of journalism. Would you share for us a bit of your journey and how you perceive training, experience, opportunities, interests, mentors, publishers, and other factors you consider particularly relevant have interwoven to bring you to where you are today as a writer? What has most or particularly influenced your movement from one topic to another?

Message Edited by Peppermill on 11-06-2007 07:45 PM




Oh dear, my literary autobiography! I had a few spectacular writing teachers in college and am still in touch with Harry Marten and Sondra Stein. Then I was an on-the-job learner in journalism and thanks to some wonderful editors (including my dear friend, Ande Zellman who took me from the Boston Phoenix to the Boston Globe and then helped me edit my book of essays) I learned how to write for print. Writing for magazines and weekly newspapers prepped me for non-fiction book writing.
The fiction grew out of a need for a challenge and years and years of marinating in prose.
Restlessness and enjoying the new has influenced the changes in topics and genres...
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Peppermill
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant

"Oh dear, my literary autobiography!"

Anita, sorry! :smileysad: And thank you!

Your comments, besides providing insight into your writing, are useful to us wannabe writers -- even those of us likely to abandon those particular dreams.

Anita_Diamant wrote:

Peppermill wrote:
Anita -- first, thank you for your responses to my and other participants questions throughout this entire board, not just on this thread. Your involvement with us here in this book club is deeply appreciated.

Second, as I recall, you entered your profession as a book author from the the direction of journalism. Would you share for us a bit of your journey and how you perceive training, experience, opportunities, interests, mentors, publishers, and other factors you consider particularly relevant have interwoven to bring you to where you are today as a writer? What has most or particularly influenced your movement from one topic to another?

Oh dear, my literary autobiography! I had a few spectacular writing teachers in college and am still in touch with Harry Marten and Sondra Stein. Then I was an on-the-job learner in journalism and thanks to some wonderful editors (including my dear friend, Ande Zellman who took me from the Boston Phoenix to the Boston Globe and then helped me edit my book of essays) I learned how to write for print. Writing for magazines and weekly newspapers prepped me for non-fiction book writing.
The fiction grew out of a need for a challenge and years and years of marinating in prose.
Restlessness and enjoying the new has influenced the changes in topics and genres...

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Laurabairn
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant

It was a "chick book".

I am wondering how you feel about the term "chick lit"used to describe an entire part of publishing these days. Some authors seem fine with it and others seem to take issue with the description.. How about you? Do you think it helps or hurts writers? Do you think it labels or pigeonholes writers for subsequent books?

And do you have any feedback from male readers?
I'm auditing a class on this topic and find the male point of view to be very informative. Many of them are so surprised at the internal dialogue of women in these "chick books". There reaction is very amusing ...they can't believe there is so much back and forth, debate, angst, etc, surrounding each topic. I'd love to hear what comments you got from male readers on this book.

Thanks!
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IBIS
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant

Anita, I've finished the RED TENT. And it was a marvelous reading experience. Thank you.

At the end, I found it difficult to read the characters in a way that I might read characters in a modern novel. There is a different sense of the self. For example, Dinah's brothers are so quick to anger. They are quick to assume disrespect from others when none was intended.

Even Joseph, when he visits Dinah, is easily insulted by her husband's innocuous remarks.
He places his hand so quickly on his dagger, ready to attack.

I was just wondering if this excessive anger and assumption of bad intentions was meant to be symbolic of this particular era? Or if you deliberate set a "tone" that would bring memories of the old testament's almighty God who was quick to anger?

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Anita_Diamant
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant



Laurabairn wrote:
It was a "chick book".

I am wondering how you feel about the term "chick lit"used to describe an entire part of publishing these days. Some authors seem fine with it and others seem to take issue with the description.. How about you? Do you think it helps or hurts writers? Do you think it labels or pigeonholes writers for subsequent books?

And do you have any feedback from male readers?
I'm auditing a class on this topic and find the male point of view to be very informative. Many of them are so surprised at the internal dialogue of women in these "chick books". There reaction is very amusing ...they can't believe there is so much back and forth, debate, angst, etc, surrounding each topic. I'd love to hear what comments you got from male readers on this book.

Thanks!




Interesting! I tend to think of the "chick lit" genre as comprising books with a pretty predicable set-up: young single professional woman facing the challenges of dating (wrong guy/right guy) and also finding meaningful work while getting help from at least one supportive girlfriend and grief/support from her mother /family... and always a happy ending.
Genres include science fiction, thrillers, and mysteries: all perfectly legit and fun entertainments. Genres are "pigeon holes" I guess, and there are great ones and fair ones and bad ones...

The readers of the TRT are overwhelmingly female, but then, so are most readers of what's called "literary" fiction. Does the readership make that "chick lit" as well? I don't think so, though I do know TRT has been given that label. All I know is that I'm honored by and grateful to my readership.

I do hear from men in email and in my audiences. They often say they enjoy "peeking behing the curtain" and feel they've learned something about how women think and behave. Male readers often write to say, "I wonder if I'm the only man who ever..." I find that endearing.

Anita
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant



IBIS wrote:
Anita, I've finished the RED TENT. And it was a marvelous reading experience. Thank you.

At the end, I found it difficult to read the characters in a way that I might read characters in a modern novel. There is a different sense of the self. For example, Dinah's brothers are so quick to anger. They are quick to assume disrespect from others when none was intended.

Even Joseph, when he visits Dinah, is easily insulted by her husband's innocuous remarks.
He places his hand so quickly on his dagger, ready to attack.

I was just wondering if this excessive anger and assumption of bad intentions was meant to be symbolic of this particular era? Or if you deliberate set a "tone" that would bring memories of the old testament's almighty God who was quick to anger?

IBIS




What a great question and a new one after ten years! I think honor and the defense of one's honor is a longstanding theme in literature and in patriarchal culture. I certainly did not intend it as a reference to the "angry God." And I think that the men in TRT show other sides of themselves, including compassion and even humor. Dinah's brothers are a mixed lot: some angrier than others.

Anita
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JulieZ
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant

Hi,

I was wondering how you went about writing The Red Tent. What made you think of writing about biblical women? Did you research first, and then write? Also, do you have any advice for aspiring writers of historical fiction? Thanks so much!
Julie
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Anita_Diamant
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant



JulieZ wrote:
Hi,

I was wondering how you went about writing The Red Tent. What made you think of writing about biblical women? Did you research first, and then write? Also, do you have any advice for aspiring writers of historical fiction? Thanks so much!




After reading the stories in Genesis several times, I did some research about the daily life of women in the historical period. I had access to the Harvard library system and while I did find some material, much was missing, which allowed me to invent.
I wrote and researched simultaneoulsy, and as needed. So when Dinah went to Egypt, I intensified my reading about that culture.
As for advice I don't think it's any different what the genre is: read as deeply and widely as you can. And rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite some more.

I hope that's a little helpful.

Thanks for writing.

Anita
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kaityy
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant

[ Edited ]
Hi Anita,

The Red Tent is simply amazing. I've been reading it for a project in school, we had to choose a book that was related to the bible. Of course, The Red Tent was my choice. My question: I know that the bible mentions Dinah only once, and I was wondering where that would be located in the bible? Also, I am slightly confused. After Dinah leaves her family and curses them, it mentions a little about what happends to them. I was wondering if that was Dinah's imagination? And if not, why such a harsh life for her mothers? I enjoyed all the Women of Jacob.

Im fascinated by this book, although it's fiction, I feel like I understand the bible a bit more now. I absolutely love how it expands the lives of women. My favorite is Shalem, I really wish we could have gotten to know him better. But! I love the book completely, its definitely something I would recommend and add to my collection. So thanks a lot!

Message Edited by kaityy on 12-05-2007 03:20 PM

Message Edited by kaityy on 12-05-2007 03:22 PM
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IBIS
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant

[ Edited ]
Hi Kaityy
Dinah's story is in Genesis, Chapter 34. Here is a link for you to click on:

http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Genesis+34


After Dinah curses her family, you'll find out more about what happens to her family if you finish THE RED TENT. She visits Jacob and her brothers near the end of the book.

Happy reading!

IBIS

Message Edited by IBIS on 12-05-2007 04:20 PM
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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JesseBC
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant

Per usual, everyone else is done and moved on and I'm on...chapter 2. So, if anybody's still out there, give me a wave.

Anyway, as much as I think The Red Tent could be criticized as "typical book club fare" (at least in terms of structure and marketing -- I think the writing is generally better than most books that make the book club circuit), I'd say its greatest value is perhaps in bringing into our conscious awareness just how little we do consider the experiences of women or the extent to which the male experience is considered the norm.

Until the female experience is brought into the foreground, it's not so evident just how much it was in the background to begin with.





Carmenere_lady wrote:


Anita_Diamant wrote:


Carmenere_lady wrote:
Hi Anita,

Something has been on my mind. I understand artistic license but I am curious about the variation you made in your book regarding the marriage of Leah to Jacob.
I remembered the story differently so I checked Newadvent.com (catholic) and Jewishencyclopia.com and both agreed on the circumstances of their marrige. Greedy Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah so that Jacob will need to work for him for 7 more years to earn Rachel.
To me, it doesn't matter one way or the other, but to feed my curiousity, please let me know if your story in The Red Tent was found somewhere else or your imagination. If your imagination, why the slight variation?
Thanks, Carmen




Great question.

The Red Tent is told from the imagined perspective of the women. You will find MANY such changes in my storytelling when compared to the bible. It was my goal to give the women the agency and power we have always exercized -- often privately if not secrectly. Beides, I found it hard to imagine that these women would submit to such a plan (tricking a husband) without being involved in the plot -- or even hatching it!

Thanks for asking.
Anita




Wow! I would have never thought! It amazes me how authors can be so focused as to stay in period and get into their characters so deeply, to see (imagine) things from their perspective. I had never considered how women may have worked behind the scenes in the bible. Real or imagined it's going to enrich my reading of the good book in the future. Thanks Anita :smileyhappy:


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Peppermill
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant

Jessie -- I am still noting when there are new posts here and checking them. Don't know that you and I know how to say things except from different perspectives, but I enjoy your posts, so if you want to run something up the flag post, I may shoot at it. :smileyvery-happy: (And sometimes I don't believe that we really disagree as much we want the other to look at the flip side of the coin.) The Red Tent was a book club selection for my group several years ago. We usually avoid "religious" topics, so it was a bit unusual for us.

Your comments are prompting me to think about which writers are doing a good job of bringing female experiences to the fore. I do include Alice Munro in that category. It is interesting to be reading Middlemarch and to consider what Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) did there.

JesseBC wrote:
Per usual, everyone else is done and moved on and I'm on...chapter 2. So, if anybody's still out there, give me a wave.

Anyway, as much as I think The Red Tent could be criticized as "typical book club fare" (at least in terms of structure and marketing -- I think the writing is generally better than most books that make the book club circuit), I'd say its greatest value is perhaps in bringing into our conscious awareness just how little we do consider the experiences of women or the extent to which the male experience is considered the norm.

Until the female experience is brought into the foreground, it's not so evident just how much it was in the background to begin with.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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JesseBC
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant

Has Red Tent been categorized as chick lit?

It's certainly not in terms of the genre the publishing industry currently markets as such, which usually feature young, single, urban women with stylish, high-paying professional jobs, lots of brand name product placement, and sexual intrigue.

Not much resemblance there at all.

I've usually seen Red Tent categorized as "women's fiction," a category I find much more insidious and condescending than "chick lit."

For one thing, chick lit doesn't try to pretend to be anything but what it is. The writing is pretty much atrocious across the board, but no one pretends to be reading them for their literary merit and they're mostly just obnoxiously post-feminist, conflating a woman who puts out, with lots of sexy 'tude, for a woman who has an actual sense of self.

Whereas women's fiction feeds into the idea (whether real, imagined, or self-fulfilling) that women will read books by and about men, but men won't read books by and about women.

Considering the phenomenal amount of cash that companies are willing to drop on market research, I have to wonder if this canard is true. JK Rowling famously had to use her initials because her publisher's marketers didn't believe boys would read a book written by a girl.

But, at the same time, I'd like to believe that, by adulthood, we outgrow this belief in cooties and girl-germs.

What frightens me more about the women's fiction category is that I'm fairly sure it's NOT a male-female thing. To the extent that women's experiences are marginalized or that what women have to say is discounted or taken less seriously, this seems to be true of men and women -- and perhaps other women even more so.






Laurabairn wrote:
It was a "chick book".

I am wondering how you feel about the term "chick lit"used to describe an entire part of publishing these days. Some authors seem fine with it and others seem to take issue with the description.. How about you? Do you think it helps or hurts writers? Do you think it labels or pigeonholes writers for subsequent books?

And do you have any feedback from male readers?
I'm auditing a class on this topic and find the male point of view to be very informative. Many of them are so surprised at the internal dialogue of women in these "chick books". There reaction is very amusing ...they can't believe there is so much back and forth, debate, angst, etc, surrounding each topic. I'd love to hear what comments you got from male readers on this book.

Thanks!


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Peppermill
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Re: The Red Tent -- Chick Lit?

[ Edited ]
Jessie -- Since I am totally ignorant about book sales statistics, about the only comment I can make here are that I do see Toni Morrison, Harper Lee, and Zora Neale Hurston among the writers for high school reading lists. I would guess that they might well be read by all genders.

If the bookstores I visit have sections devoted to "chick lit" or "women's lit," I am oblivious to them. At this stage in history, it seems to me that it is more important to get women's experiences and perspectives documented than to worry about who is reading them. An example I would cite is Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Or, while a memoir rather than fiction, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.

A category that I do find mildly irksome at times is "book club recommendations."

To me, The Red Tent gets grouped much more narrowly, with Marek Halter's Canaan Trilogy: Sarah, Zipporah, Lilah, Ann Burton's Rahab's Story, Orson Scott Card's Rebekah, and others of that ilk. (Which I have not read, incidentally, so I am categorizing on subject matter -- Biblical women fiction.) I do NOT think of TRT as "chick lit."

JesseBC wrote:
Has Red Tent been categorized as chick lit?

It's certainly not in terms of the genre the publishing industry currently markets as such, which usually feature young, single, urban women with stylish, high-paying professional jobs, lots of brand name product placement, and sexual intrigue.

Not much resemblance there at all.

I've usually seen Red Tent categorized as "women's fiction," a category I find much more insidious and condescending than "chick lit."

For one thing, chick lit doesn't try to pretend to be anything but what it is. The writing is pretty much atrocious across the board, but no one pretends to be reading them for their literary merit and they're mostly just obnoxiously post-feminist, conflating a woman who puts out, with lots of sexy 'tude, for a woman who has an actual sense of self.

Whereas women's fiction feeds into the idea (whether real, imagined, or self-fulfilling) that women will read books by and about men, but men won't read books by and about women.

Considering the phenomenal amount of cash that companies are willing to drop on market research, I have to wonder if this canard is true. JK Rowling famously had to use her initials because her publisher's marketers didn't believe boys would read a book written by a girl.

But, at the same time, I'd like to believe that, by adulthood, we outgrow this belief in cooties and girl-germs.

What frightens me more about the women's fiction category is that I'm fairly sure it's NOT a male-female thing. To the extent that women's experiences are marginalized or that what women have to say is discounted or taken less seriously, this seems to be true of men and women -- and perhaps other women even more so.

Laurabairn wrote:
It was a "chick book".

I am wondering how you feel about the term "chick lit"used to describe an entire part of publishing these days. Some authors seem fine with it and others seem to take issue with the description.. How about you? Do you think it helps or hurts writers? Do you think it labels or pigeonholes writers for subsequent books?

And do you have any feedback from male readers?
I'm auditing a class on this topic and find the male point of view to be very informative. Many of them are so surprised at the internal dialogue of women in these "chick books". There reaction is very amusing ...they can't believe there is so much back and forth, debate, angst, etc, surrounding each topic. I'd love to hear what comments you got from male readers on this book.

Thanks!



Message Edited by Peppermill on 12-07-2007 09:08 AM
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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JesseBC
Posts: 278
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Anita Diamant

They're out there. I would put Margaret Atwood and Lionel Shriver near the top of the list, though I'm not sure how widely they're being read.

I'd also add Michel Faber, but that probably just adds weight to the idea that women will read men's books, but men won't read women's books. Still, Faber did an impressive job writing from a female perspective and covering certain dynamics, like competition between women for male attention.

Red Tent would probably go on the list just for sheer popularity, though I'm not sure how much it was being discussed in terms of women's experiences. Most of the online book clubs seemed to talk about it as a religious book.

I suppose just the difficulty in coming up with names underscores the point.





Peppermill wrote:
Jessie -- I am still noting when there are new posts here and checking them. Don't know that you and I know how to say things except from different perspectives, but I enjoy your posts, so if you want to run something up the flag post, I may shoot at it. :smileyvery-happy: (And sometimes I don't believe that we really disagree as much we want the other to look at the flip side of the coin.) The Red Tent was a book club selection for my group several years ago. We usually avoid "religious" topics, so it was a bit unusual for us.

Your comments are prompting me to think about which writers are doing a good job of bringing female experiences to the fore. I do include Alice Munro in that category. It is interesting to be reading Middlemarch and to consider what Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) did there.

JesseBC wrote:
Per usual, everyone else is done and moved on and I'm on...chapter 2. So, if anybody's still out there, give me a wave.

Anyway, as much as I think The Red Tent could be criticized as "typical book club fare" (at least in terms of structure and marketing -- I think the writing is generally better than most books that make the book club circuit), I'd say its greatest value is perhaps in bringing into our conscious awareness just how little we do consider the experiences of women or the extent to which the male experience is considered the norm.

Until the female experience is brought into the foreground, it's not so evident just how much it was in the background to begin with.



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JesseBC
Posts: 278
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Red Tent -- Chick Lit?

Well, yes, I'd add those writers to the list as well (wish I'd thought of Morrison myself actually :-)

But I do think popularity and accessibility are a factor. There are women who have written brilliantly and eloquently on the female experience -- from Virginia Woolf to Susan Sontag. But not too many ladies' book clubs are reading these women (in fact, I was once ejected from a book group for so much as saying I LIKE Susan Sontag...not sure what was up with that..I guess they really hated her, but they didn't even seem to know who she was...)

And I'm not sure being on the required school reading lists are enough to really count as popularity (especially since the books are often assigned far too early for the students to fully appreciate them).

So accessibility is an issue too. I don't think Red Tent comes anywhere close to Virginia Woolf in terms of either quality or expression of what it means to be female, but far more people are reading it and talking about it and it's a much easier book to understand while certainly not being BADLY written. (Gertrude Stein is an important writer too, but she's almost impossible to read.)





Peppermill wrote:
Jessie -- Since I am totally ignorant about book sales statistics, about the only comment I can make here are that I do see Toni Morrison, Harper Lee, and Zora Neale Hurston among the writers for high school reading lists. I would guess that they might well be read by all genders.

If the bookstores I visit have sections devoted to "chick lit" or "women's lit," I am oblivious to them. At this stage in history, it seems to me that it is more important to get women's experiences and perspectives documented than to worry about who is reading them. An example I would cite is Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Or, while a memoir rather than fiction, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.

A category that I do find mildly irksome at times is "book club recommendations."

To me, The Red Tent gets grouped much more narrowly, with Marek Halter's Canaan Trilogy: Sarah, Zipporah, Lilah, Ann Burton's Rahab's Story, Orson Scott Card's Rebekah, and others of that ilk. (Which I have not read, incidentally, so I am categorizing on subject matter -- Biblical women fiction.) I do NOT think of TRT as "chick lit."

JesseBC wrote:
Has Red Tent been categorized as chick lit?

It's certainly not in terms of the genre the publishing industry currently markets as such, which usually feature young, single, urban women with stylish, high-paying professional jobs, lots of brand name product placement, and sexual intrigue.

Not much resemblance there at all.

I've usually seen Red Tent categorized as "women's fiction," a category I find much more insidious and condescending than "chick lit."

For one thing, chick lit doesn't try to pretend to be anything but what it is. The writing is pretty much atrocious across the board, but no one pretends to be reading them for their literary merit and they're mostly just obnoxiously post-feminist, conflating a woman who puts out, with lots of sexy 'tude, for a woman who has an actual sense of self.

Whereas women's fiction feeds into the idea (whether real, imagined, or self-fulfilling) that women will read books by and about men, but men won't read books by and about women.

Considering the phenomenal amount of cash that companies are willing to drop on market research, I have to wonder if this canard is true. JK Rowling famously had to use her initials because her publisher's marketers didn't believe boys would read a book written by a girl.

But, at the same time, I'd like to believe that, by adulthood, we outgrow this belief in cooties and girl-germs.

What frightens me more about the women's fiction category is that I'm fairly sure it's NOT a male-female thing. To the extent that women's experiences are marginalized or that what women have to say is discounted or taken less seriously, this seems to be true of men and women -- and perhaps other women even more so.

Laurabairn wrote:
It was a "chick book".

I am wondering how you feel about the term "chick lit"used to describe an entire part of publishing these days. Some authors seem fine with it and others seem to take issue with the description.. How about you? Do you think it helps or hurts writers? Do you think it labels or pigeonholes writers for subsequent books?

And do you have any feedback from male readers?
I'm auditing a class on this topic and find the male point of view to be very informative. Many of them are so surprised at the internal dialogue of women in these "chick books". There reaction is very amusing ...they can't believe there is so much back and forth, debate, angst, etc, surrounding each topic. I'd love to hear what comments you got from male readers on this book.

Thanks!



Message Edited by Peppermill on 12-07-2007 09:08 AM


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Peppermill
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Re: The Red Tent -- Chick Lit?


JesseBC wrote:
...So accessibility is an issue too. I don't think Red Tent comes anywhere close to Virginia Woolf in terms of either quality or expression of what it means to be female, but far more people are reading it and talking about it and it's a much easier book to understand while certainly not being BADLY written. (Gertrude Stein is an important writer too, but she's almost impossible to read.)


Jessie -- you keep reshuffling the list of writers I'd like to spend more time exploring! (Thanks to you on a much earlier post elsewhere, Chris Hitchens' God is not great... is being sandwiched between the Idylls and Middlemarch.) I will admit that Margaret Atwood is not a favorite of mine, especially Handmaiden's Tale, which seems to have established her reputation. I did enjoy Penelopiad and Alias Grace.

I also appreciated the point you made earlier in another post about the appropriateness of NOT categorizing The Red Tent only as "Biblical Women" literature. Like Bible stories themselves, it is much more than being the "religious reading" that categorization may connote.

While young people may be exposed to tough literature too early and be turned away thereby, I'd rather they be stretched in their reading than not. They need to know such writing exists. I'd have to turn to others, including teachers and curriculum developers who struggle with the trade-offs, for a more informed perspective on what is possible given the range of print material available today. (You may well be speaking from experience yourself.)

The Brits have provided some fine female writers (besides Woolf!) that include "women's perspective": Byatt, Margaret Drabble, Iris Murdoch, Penelope Fitzgerald, Kate Atkinson, ... Most of them have one or more books that should be accessible to a wider reading public than they probably are. Which ones are read by men?

Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking (not fiction) may be read by both men and women?

It is disconcerting to see the small response Doris Lessing's The Cleft is receiving on these boards. I have not picked it up because it has been likened to The Handmaiden's Tale.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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