Friday, January 07, 2011


I was quite taken aback to see precious_boy and "manga" in the same sentence at this LJ. Hm. I haven't been much exposed to manga and only have a minimal sense of it. So I'm intrigued.

Jeff Erno has put up an extremely well-reasoned post about an issue that pushes one of my buttons. Go here to read it. (Beware: my rant is in the comments section!)

Anybody who hasn't yet read Tamara Allen's Whistling in the Dark should do so ASAP. This novel sets three bars: historical fiction, gay fiction, and romance fiction. I honestly can't imagine any recent m/m tale being better than this.

My top "Please Make It Go Away" items for 2010:

  1. Ticks/Lyme Disease
  2. Snow/ice
  3. The need for animal shelters
  4. The need for people shelters
  5. Christmas stories
  6. Publisher favoritism at review sites. (Thank goodness none of you is guilty of this!)
  7. The American "just suffer and/or die if you can't pay" healthcare system
  8. All the other stuff I can't mention, because authors, you know, are gracious ladies and gentlemen who keep their opinions to themselves, unless of course those opinions pander to a belief held by a person or persons they're trying to impress. (Holy hell, I've never had to bowdlerize my utterances as much as I have since becoming an "online presence." And isn't bowdlerize a great word? I haven't been able to use it in a while. Maybe I'll sell it to that pinhead "Billbo the Clown" O'Reilly. *g*)
  9. The number 10


Tam said...

I can't read your blurb because my firewall at work thinks its dirty. :-) I'll have to check but somehow you don't seem like a manga/yaoi kind of girl. And to be honest I think manga is the style (aka drawing like cartoons) whereas yaoi is the boy on boy storyline. Pokemon is manga and I'm pretty sure precious_boy is not like Pokemon. I hope? :-)

I commented on that post at Jeff's. Pretty much said ditto what you said. With the whole condom/no condom debate yet again today there seems to be a lot of "gay experts" who presume to speak on behalf of all gay men and who would like to tar all women/readers/whomever with the same brush. Write what you like, you aren't going to please everyone but there is no one shared expience so get over trying to make everyone like/think/act the way you think they should.

Historical? Ack. we'll see.

I'm all for getting rid of that stuff, along with snow.

Publisher favouritism? Really? Damn I'm so oblivious. I did hear there's an author/reviewer clique somewhere mysterious, perhaps on Twitter. Marie Sexton is going to make t-shirts for us. *eye roll* Who has time for this shit.

Chris said...

Is it spring yet? *looks at tomorrow night's low temp of -20F and whimpers*

K. Z. Snow said...

You have a very strange firewall, Tam.

I'm not a manga/yaoi kind of girl, which is why that person's observation intrigued me. And you're correct in assuming precious_boy is not like Pokemon. I think. (Speaking of which, isn't there some weird Pokemon fandom/slash fic going on? Maybe I'm confusing it with some other weird fandom/slash fic, since I'm totally in the dark about that stuff, too.)

Gah, yeah, the strictures people want to put on fiction drive me batty. I thought Jeff was a lovely man before I read his post, and now I think he's even lovelier. Not to mention pretty freakin' cute. ;-)

Believe me, Tam, Whistling in the Dark is a historical like no other. It takes place in 1919 NYC, for starters, so it has a "modern" feel--yet not so close to contemporary that it seems anachronistic. The book is just plain wonderful, a delight in every way. And this is coming from a picky reader!

Some review sites do seem to favor certain publishers, which makes me think there's a little strokin' going on. And I have indeed seen evidence of author and high-profile reviewer suckasuck on Twitter and elsewhere.

K. Z. Snow said...

Sheesh, no kidding, Chris.

I feel so sorry for the wild critters that I'm constantly hauling kitchen scraps out to the back forty and scattering dry bread beneath the bird feeders for Gloria (our turkey visitor).

Lily said...

I'm in the middle of precious_boy, which I'm loving btw, and it's definitely not what I think of as Manga. I agree with Tam since I've always thought of it as more along the lines of cartoons. Maybe they were thinking Yaoi? Although having only read a couple of those, they didn't really appeal, I don't think precious_boy fits in there either.

Jeff's post was interesting. I left my 2cents there as well as at Wave's on the condom issue.

I like your Make It Go Away list and I've moved Whistling in the Dark up the line after your comments.

Teddy Pig said...

On the Jeff Erno thing... UM...

Listen, I actually read a ton of Gay Romance and it just never fails to amaze me that women can write Straight Romance all day with the butch Navy Seals and Marines and Cops etc etc etc but you get to Gay Romance and especially those "Gay For You" stories where the characters ARE SUPPOSED TO BE STRAIGHT MEN and YES waaaay too many characters I have read are basically emotionally responding as women.

I said it when I reviewed Tere Michaels ~ Faith & Fidelity and I will say it again and again and it has nothing to do with "not liking queens" it has to do with the characters not acting right for what they are supposed to be being introduced to me the reader as STRAIGHT MEN.

If that's what the writer wants to write then go ahead write the biggest swishiest drama queens you want but don't try and turn around and sell them to me as Straight Men or even Gay Men who supposedly pass as Straight acting like that shit.

It has nothing to do with phobia it has to do with logic. To turn it into a political discussion or a generality is stupid.

There are good Gay Romance writers out there who do butch characters very well.

Jason said...

I have to agree with TP on this. Yes, gays are all the flavors of the rainbow but when a guy has a certain personality then melts into a very feminine reaction to something, it's just wrong.

K. Z. Snow said...

" has to do with the characters not acting right for what they are supposed to be being introduced to me the reader as STRAIGHT MEN.

Hell yeah, TeddyP, that makes sense. If a character is portrayed as some super-butchified straight guy who can only "turn gay" for one man (pfff, sure), he wouldn't likely be the emotional type. (I know. I live with an ex-Army Ranger, and he's the most stitched-up, in-control dude you can imagine.) It would take a lot for such a character to reach his breaking point. So, yeah...consistency is the key.

But the issue, for me at least, is readers expecting male characters in gay romances to behave like male characters in straight romances -- which is absurd. Gay men are not all alpha-to-the-max. I think that's the point Jeff was making.

The phrase chicks with dicks also pisses me off because it implies all women are irrational creatures ruled by their emotions, and sigh, cry, and whine a lot. And I'm here to tell ya, most women I've known are WAY more rational than most straight men. :)

K. Z. Snow said...

Thanks for your input, Lily (and I'm so glad you're liking p_b!)

I've been dropping my two cents around the Net today too. ;-)

K. Z. Snow said...

Hiya, Jase! Ditto what I said to TP. Agreed, a tough guy shouldn't just puddle up at the drop of a hat. There has to be internal logic governing a character's behavior for that character to be believable.

Teddy Pig said...

Well, what I hear is Jeff making some generalities and blaming the readers when I think the writers should maybe kinda sorta be keeping an ear out to some of the expectations of the readers.

I hear too many times the whole well... this is a "M/M" style story so that (whatever the problematic style of writing) is allowed and often I am thinking NO that was or is a two dimensional stereotype and it can ruin the perfectly good story for the reader.

Queeny behavior being used to hang the "gay label" on a guy can be just as much a canned stereotype as Butch when you get down to it.

So in my opinion as a reader the writer needs to be careful especially with contemporary characterizations on either side of that line. It just needs to make sense.

K. Z. Snow said...

As a reader, I just want to see the same kind of variety in gay characters (well-drawn gay characters) that exists in the gay population. Having them all swaggering around like Village People clones would pretty much make a mockery of the genre.

Teddy Pig said...

Well, when I start seeing characters like gay construction workers and gay telephone repair men overloading my TBR pile I may agree with you.

I remember what Castro clone 70s gay porn was like and I know when I see it.

Till then I don't see an issue with overly masculine men in Contemporary Gay Romance in fact my take is it's more the other extreme.

Katrina Strauss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katrina Strauss said...

Egads, I need an editor for blogging. Let me revise:

Miyamoto Kano is one of my favorite yaoi mangaka and a primary influence on my own work. I've had the privilege of chatting with her privately, and she's a very nice lady. So trust me when I say: you and your precious_boy are in good company at that reader's blog there! ;)

As for various postings about what we are and aren't allowed to write in M/M this week, well, who knows what it will be next week. :P

K. Z. Snow said...

That's certainly reassuring, Kitty! I'm still wondering what made the reader draw that comparison, though.

Katrina Strauss said...

Oh, and to give you a crash course, even if you didn't ask and I clearly have too much time on my hands tonight --

Manga is comics (still drawings), anime is cartoons (animated). In Japan, the terms mean simply that: comics and cartoons. To westerners, the terms have come to denote a specific Japanese style of comics and cartoons. Certain culturally-influenced tropes have evolved and fuel the genre.

Yaoi is, as Tam noted, a subgenre of manga focusing on homoerotica. It has its own tropes, some specific to yaoi, others found in manga in general. (Hence certain themes that show up in those of us who play the yaoi card in our M/M, and why we get what some people call "cartoon covers"...)

Chris said...

Katrina: I haven't read precious_boy yet, but I wonder if there's a seme-uke dynamic in it?

Katrina Strauss said...

Chris ~ It's on my TBR list too! (Mmm, that cover boy...) It wouldn't be the first time an author friend has written what I call "accidental yaoi"! :D

K. Z. Snow said...

I'd stored those distinctions, which I picked up here and there on the 'Net, somewhere in the far reaches of my brain. But since I never follow trends too closely (am generally oblivious of them, in fact), I never bothered to look into the whole manga/anime/yaoi scene. Thanks for the succinct explanation!

Do you think it was my book's cover combined with the characters' age difference that sparked the LJist's comment? 'Cause I'm still unclear about the specific themes that define yaoi. (Older, "mentorish" man taking an adolescent or teenage boy under his to speak?)

Katrina Strauss said...

KZ ~ That is one dynamic that turns up in yaoi. Other times, it's not so much an age difference but that the seme is often presented as more worldly, experienced, and aggressive. (I say "often" because there are always exceptions, not to mention mangaka that like to twist the tropes, spoof them, or avoid them.)

Miyamoto Kano is considered a relatively realistic writer in the genre -- and how I love her for it -- but she subtly weaves in a few tropes nonetheless. I haven't read Vanilla Star (I'm so woefully behind on the TBR list, it's not even amusing) but here's a blurb that might shed some light:

"Heartbroken and lonely, Takeshi turns to internet porn for comfort, where a new AV actor catches his eye. He tries to find more about the boy, desperate to meet him, but the road to love is never rockier than when the object of your affections is in the porno trade..."

K. Z. Snow said...

OH! Okay, Kitty, now I get it.

A big difference in the two stories is that in precious_boy, the older man is extremely ambivalent about getting involved in the life of the younger man, and resistant even to the thought of any physical intimacy.

Tracy said...

Jeff's article was great. I agree that there are all different types of men and women, gay or straight, and peg-holing them into a "chick with dick" label is ridiculous. As a reader I want to read about all different types of characters - both in m/m or m/f.

I'll have to look into that Tamara Allen book. I did read Downtime by her which I loved.

K. Z. Snow said...

Hi, Tracy! If you liked Downtime, you'll probably like Whistling in the Dark even more. It's really a lovely story.