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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Some thoughts about my ratings system

A few days after my last post (cue bugler) a friend who happens to be gay questioned my Recommend To Spouse score for A Single Man – a book written from the point of view of a gay man. I’d only given it five out of ten for him, whereas all the others in my recommendation list were eight and up.

My pal’s comment (via wonderful Twitter, of course) confirmed something that had been niggling away at me since I started this caper. Which is that the Spouse scores were skewing the results on all the books, because every one I have written about so far has been fiction – and he doesn’t read fiction. So I’ve taken him off.

My husband perfectly fits that male demographic which read books about war, politics, history, sport and philosophy – or biographies and memoirs of people involved in the aforementioned subjects.

He has read a lot of the great classics of Slavic literature (he’s Serbian), but the only novels he’s picked up since we’ve been together (15 years) were my first two. He hasn’t even read the other three.

Do you think it’s weird that it doesn’t bother me? I really don’t care. Stephen King says he writes all his books for his wife, but I don’t write mine for my partner. I write them for my Australian publisher, my best friends (gay, straight, whatever) and my nieces. Really, I write them for myself.

But since I took my old mucker off the ratings, I don’t have a heterosexual man on the list. Does it matter? I chose the other people on there because they’re the ones I discuss books with the most, not because of their sexual preferences.

But having introduced the notion of 'gay best friend ' - who happens to be one of the most voracious readers of fiction I have ever known - it seemed right to offer a cross section.

I had to wrack my frontal lobe a bit to come up with a straight bloke I talk to much about reading and the best choice is my very dear brainy film maker friend, who I will call Man Pal.

As I’m being so PC, it then occurred I haven’t covered ladies of the islander persuasion (LESBIANS, Your Majesty). Helen Razer has granted me permission to cite her name in this category.

I think that covers it. And if I ever review a book about footballing Stalinist generals, I’ll put the spouse score back in.

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