[Reader's Note: The NYT gave you a small glimpse of the Man Book Club. Please read below for the rest. Spoiler Alert: We do read books by women.]
|The New York Times Interviews|
Man Book Club
When we were approached by The New York Times, we were flattered but never expected to end up in print. Nevertheless, we gave a phone interview and provided additional information by email. When the article came out on May 4, we were dismayed that so little of what we prize about our close-knit group was mentioned or explained.
A Critical Reaction
While most pundits had fun with the machismo story line, and understood that we and the other book clubs in the article weren't seeking to be taken seriously, there were some who averred that we were shockingly narrow-minded in our book selection criteria and that as rich white men we were modeling abhorrent behavior. One writer even said book clubs like ours perpetuate “the patriarchy’s continued dominance.”
To address these concerns, a little explanation is in order.
Why “Man Book Club”
“Man Book Club” was intended as a riff on the "Man Booker Prize." It referred to our original selection criterion, which mandated shortlisted or award-winning authors only. Like Booker Prize winners, for example. Except the Booker Prize became the Man Booker Prize when it was "bought" by the Man Financial Group (a UK hedge fund). So our name was a jab at Man’s cynical entry into the rarefied world of literary awards.
Our rule helps us avoid overtly feminine titles that may not appeal to the entire group of us. It’s a way to rule out Eat, Pray, Love, but rule in Unbroken. And Anna Karenina. It’s not perfect and in fact we’ve strayed from it, like when we read Patti Smith's memoir, Just Kids.
Thank you, Slate. We couldn’t have said it better.