6 responses to “Read the Damn Book!”

  1. Christine

    Unfortunately, I think Lord John is selling just because it’s Gabaldon. The lowest common denominator at work. I’ve noticed it’s a little harder to sell books like these as well. I don’t think it necessarily means homophobia. Unlike watching a television show, books require an investment in time and energy. People are pickier. If they are heterosexual, and haven’t yet read and enjoyed something, it’s kinda tough to get them to switch. Or, they may feel they won’t be able to relate to the character. Or, they may think they’re going to read something graphic that makes them uncomfortable. Most people don’t read as voraciously and openly as many booksellers. These same people may happily watch movies and television with gay characters, though.

  2. Deborah Rose Reeves

    This is certainly sad and disappointing, and probably indicates a certain amount of homophobia or an assumption on the part of readers that they “won’t relate” to the characters or subject matter.

    Having said that, I tend to agree with your co-worker and wonder should we purposefully mention when a character in a book happens to be gay?

    Take the book ‘Robin and Ruby’, for example, where you said the characters became so real to you: let’s pretend that the characters in the books you’re trying to recommend are, in fact, real. How would you introduce them at a party in ‘real life’? I doubt you would say “Hey this is my friend Robin and he’s gay.” (a) because it’s not our job to ‘out’ somebody else and, (b) because there is so much more to a person and a character in a book than their sexuality. We never describe somebody as our straight friend or our white friend and yet we always seem to classify in terms of gender, sexuality and race. I think that that’s where the real homophobia (and racism) lies: our compulsion to define people by a perceived difference when the aim should surely be equality and treating everyone the same – in real life or in a book.

  3. Brad Craft

    First, bless you — and here I speak for my people — for your good works. I sold books for awhile in Orange County, California, i.e. The Most Reactionary Place on Earth. If you don’t know it, it’s kind of a Tea Party theme park atmosphere; yes, you can get your ticket punched to ride the Handbasket to Hell with me, but you can also hang with stoners and surfer chicks in Little Saigon. Crazy, huh? Anyway, the point was that for every lady who wanted to buy all our Harry Potter books to burn them at church (true story) there was always some cool kid just aching to find something to read not from the approved list. I can still remember the girl in Little House braids I introduced to Jeanette Winterson.

    I’m not saying I would willingly live outside the Green Zone anymore, but if you have to, well then, again, bless you for plugging away at winning hearts & minds to literature, civilization, tolerance and the American way! Good on you.

  4. Deon Stonehouse

    Central Oregon has a mix of people, some are conservative, others are not. At Sunriver Books & Music we stock all of Armstead Maupin’s wonderful Tales of the City series, one of my personal favorite books this year is Jonathan Irving’s In One Person and it is doing well in our store. Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman was our May selection in the Mystery Book Club and was enjoyed by the book club members. We are about an hour away from Sisters so maybe our readers are a bit more liberal? I agree some readers are resistance to novels with gay characters, but we do stock books with gay characters and they are embraced by our readers.

  5. Emily

    I have noticed more gay characters showing up in mainstream literature in the past few years, and I take heart that this is a sign of cultural acceptance. No longer must a character’s sexuality be the sole focus & purpose of that character’s presence in a book; he can be treated as a person not defined by his sexuality. I recall reading Frank Bruni’s wonderful memoir Born Round and being pleasantly surprised that it was a book in which a gay man recounts his life without focusing on his sexuality any more than on his search for satisfaction in any other aspect of his life.

  6. Amanda MacNaughton

    Thank you for all these wonderful comments! They are valuable and thought-provoking. I like Deborah’s point about introducing characters just as you would introduce a friend. I do feel that with “Robin and Ruby” (have you read it?) Robin’s sexuality is a huge and integral part of the story. I would not introduce him as “This is Robin, my gay friend,” but if he and George were together at the party, I would certainly introduce them as a couple: “This is Robin-and-George,” or something like that. In this way, I would be treating them like any other couple, and yet, it would be crystal clear to the other person that they are gay. In other words, while it may not be my job to “out” the character, I don’t want to leave them in the closet either.
    Deon, your comment is very interesting to me also. “In One Person” is also doing well at our store. I think it’s because it’s on the bestseller list and has gotten so much hype. Sales make sales.
    Brad, thanks for your comments! They are very meaningful to me. I’m touched by them, much as I was very pleased by K.M. Soehnlein’s comment to me.

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