My husband is a big believer in judging a book by its cover. Bad covers sometimes hide good books, but good covers almost always go with good books. I’m not sure I believe this, but there is definitely something at work when you are cruising around the bookstore and deciding what to pick up. That’s why I was struck when today’s New York Times Book Review section included an article by author Meg Wolitzer on the topic of women’s fiction vs. men’s fiction, with the question “Are there different rules for men and women in the world of literary fiction?”
First of all, fascinating article. Take a few minutes to read it. I’ll wait.
Second of all, she’s absolutely right about covers being code.
A big swastika on the front says “I’m a book for guys over 65.”
Hyper-skinny cartoon girls in short skirts and high heels call out “I’m a book for you, you 18-to-24 year old woman and for you, you 32-38 young mom who needs to escape!”
So, just for entertainment purposes, see if you can figure out who these books are for…
In the middle there you will see the new book by Mark Leyner, The Sugar Frosted Nut Sack. I have read several reviews of this book, and I can tell you, I am not in the target market. First of all, the use of the word “nut sack” in the title. I am not a guy, but if I were, I don’t think I’d be the kind of guy who uses the word “nut sack.” I’d be the kind of guy who wouldn’t say “nut sack” if somebody were removing the nuts in question from the aforementioned sack.
So who is this book for? Reading into the NYT review, I’d say it is for smart-ass 30-something guys who like to feel in the know, pop-culture-wise. Not for the guys who laugh themselves silly and squirt beer out their noses when watching Jackass, it’s for the guys who congratulate themselves that they can figure out that “nostalgie de la boue” means slumming it with trailer-trash gals. Guys that like crazy, lewd, goofball action, but want to be sure that a hearty dose of mythology and large vocabulary words are included.
So, okay, for those of you who are thinking “That’s a lot of conclusions to come to based on the book title and a review or two,” you’re right. I should probably read the book and let you know what’s what. If I can summon the enthusiasm, I’ll do that.
Ok, admit it: the one with the swastika on the cover was totally based on Dad.