First-time author Ryan Quinn penned an opinion piece that appeared on June 9 in the Huffington Post. Mr. Quinn, who's always been an athletic guy, was understandably proud to see his sports-related coming-of-age novel, The Fall, reach #2 on Amazon's bestseller list for sports fiction.
The book also hit #1 on another Amazon bestseller list -- that for gay and lesbian fiction.
In spite of the fact Mr. Quinn happens to be gay, he's not so thrilled about nabbing that spot.
I understand his qualms. He doesn't see his book as a gay story; he never intended it to be a gay story. The novel has straight characters and hetero couples in addition to a gay character -- in other words, the same mix of young people one would expect to find on most college campuses. "The Gay Fiction tent has gotten too big," laments Mr. Quinn, and he believes gay authors and/or books with gay characters shouldn't automatically be shoved into it.
This is an excellent point, and well taken. The one queer character in Mr. Quinn's book (which, by the way, I haven't read) is apparently no more or less important than the other MCs, and his experiences don't either delineate the plot or define the theme.
So far, so good. The author has a legitimate gripe.
However, it's unfortunate Ryan Quinn didn't quit while he was ahead, because he soon goes off the rails and right into Divaland with subsequent statements. Like these:
. . . Grouping a coming-of-age campus novel (to throw out some more bookseller labels) with titles whose main premise is lusty homoeroticism is a disservice to readers. . . . I don't want readers to come to The Fall looking for erotic tripe and leaving disappointed for lack of throbbing and thrusting. I want readers to come intrigued, and then leave entertained and a little more conscious of this world we live in.
Uh-oh, what happened to my sympathetic understanding? Well, damn, it just left the building!
"Reasonable and Compassionate Self," I called after it, "what's wrong?"
"Now the dude's talking out of his ass," it answered, and kept going.
I couldn't dispute the observation. Mr. Quinn, it appears, has literally been judging books by their covers and not their content. I doubt he's even so much as read their blurbs. Why do I assume this? Because he makes a point of mentioning the 15 out of 20 Gay Fiction top-listers "that feature [covers with] shirtless male torsos, or men embracing, or both." (Seems to me the logical target for his umbrage should have been publishers and their often-questionable preferences for cover art.) And his concern about "doing a disservice to readers" strikes me as a bit disingenuous. I get the impression, although I could be wrong, he's more concerned about a disservice being done to him and his novel.
I don't think I've ever written a book -- not since my days at Ellora's Cave, anyway -- whose main premise (emphasis mine) is lusty eroticism, homo or otherwise. And I believe the vast majority of gay fiction/m-m romance authors can justifiably make the same assertion. When readers consider buying my "erotic tripe" -- especially the contemporary tripe -- I, too, want them "to come intrigued, and then leave entertained and a little more conscious of this world we live in." I want this very, very much and work hard to make it happen. Dollars to donuts most of my peers feel the same way.
But . . . maybe we should cut Ryan Quinn some slack.* He is a first-time author, after all, and a lot of writers with literary aspirations are pretty full of themselves when their initial efforts are accepted for publication. I guess it’s understandable** he feels soiled through association with genre fiction.
Anyway, read this article to get the whole picture. Bet you're going to see more blog posts about it. ;-)
And, Mr. Quinn? ====>
And, Mr. Quinn? ====>
* Nah, fuck it. If he's so conscientious a writer, he should be able to choose his words more carefully.
** I’m bullshitting you.