These Male Authors Don’t Mind if You Think They’re Women

With psychological thrillers told from a female point of view a hot genre, male writers find an ambiguous pen name doesn’t hurt; trying on a bra.

Is Riley Sager, author of the new thriller “Final Girls,” a woman?The writer’s gender-neutral name won’t answer the question. Neither will the author biography on the book’s back flap, which avoids male or female pronouns, or the book-jacket photo, which is nonexistent. The website for the novelist features trees against a hot pink sky and the author’s Instagram account includes shots of books, desserts, animals and fruity cocktails.

While it isn’t exactly a secret that Riley Sager is the author Todd Ritter, it is fine with him if some people assume he’s female. In fact, it is good for business.

 .. The problem for men: Some fans doubt the authenticity of the female narrator’s voice when it is delivered by a male author.
.. The world has changed since the Brontë sisters and the woman born Mary Ann Evans, writing as George Eliot, had to disguise themselves with masculine-sounding pen names to be taken seriously. Women hold a large share of the power in the reading public. Last year, women bought 59% of all fiction, according to NPD Books.
.. A 2014 Goodreads survey of 20,000 male and 20,000 female participants on the site found that of the 50 books published that year that were most read by women, 46 were written by women.

.. The stakes are high for male writers not to make mistakes that female readers would catch. S.J. Watson—Steve Watson—tried on a bra in his office

.. The book refers to the undergarment at least seven times. If he had messed up a reference to bra mechanics, he said, his mother, one of his first readers, would have told him.

 .. If readers assume he’s a woman, Mr. Strong said, it signals to him that he wrote a believable female narrator. “At almost every event, someone will say, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize you weren’t a woman,’ and I’m always pleased.”

.. Mr. Thomas​ adopted the pen name on the advice of his all-female publishing team but he didn’t set up social-media accounts ​for it because he didn’t want to flesh out the fake identity. “We didn’t overtly lie,” he said. ​“It’s a cutthroat industry.”

Reading Bill O’Reilly’s Old Novel About a TV Newsman Who Murders Several People After Losing His Job

The main character is a violently bitter journalist named Shannon Michaels, who, after being pushed out of two high-profile positions, takes revenge on four of his former colleagues by murdering them one by one.

.. rants about ex-wives, newsroom politics, and the Long Island Expressway

.. a veteran newsman preys upon a younger female co-worker in the very first scene.

.. struggling with a “basic human need, the need for some kind of physical release.” Costello spots a pretty camerawoman at a party, happily notes that she’s had too much vodka, and approaches her with “intense sexual hunger.”

.. Then the vengeful Michaels kills Costello by shoving a silver spoon through the roof of his mouth and into his brain.

.. the feud between Michaels and Costello in “Those Who Trespass” is based on O’Reilly’s experience at CBS, in the eighties, during the Falkland Islands War. O’Reilly and his crew had captured exclusive footage of a riot in Buenos Aires, which CBS spliced into a report delivered by the veteran network correspondent Bob Schieffer, who never mentioned O’Reilly by name.

.. spends the next decade plotting his revenge.

.. O’Reilly’s first avatar within the novel: a horny, aggressive, ambitious Irish-American who delivers monologue after monologue about the “self-obsessed business” of television news. (“People who are greedy for power realize that television is the most influential tool ever created,” he says.

.. Tommy O’Malley, who is also horny, aggressive, ambitious, and Irish. O’Malley is an “intense man, sometimes quick to anger.” He arrests a drug dealer and breaks his thumb out of spite: “That must really hurt, he thought, giving in to a feel of sadistic pleasure.” He really hates inner-city teen-agers. (“These thugs killed with a casualness that O’Malley could not comprehend.”) For the duration of the story, as Michaels goes about murdering colleagues who have slighted him, O’Malley, the good guy, is hot on his trail.

.. Like both Michaels and O’Malley, Van Buren is horny, aggressive, and ambitious. Unlike them, she’s not an avatar for O’Reilly but an object onto which he projects a whole host of suspect qualities. “Ashley Van Buren knew her good looks were partially responsible for her rapid rise,” O’Reilly writes

.. In her first conversation with O’Malley, trying to get information about the murder on Martha’s Vineyard, the blond Van Buren deploys both a “deep, sexy tone” and a “teasing voice.”

.. Van Buren is the only major female character in the novel. (An “unattractive woman” named Hillary appears briefly, before Michaels knocks her out and throws her body out the window into an alley.) It’s almost funny how utterly the character of Van Buren unmasks her author: she is conveniently and perpetually sexually frustrated, and she is happy to be seen as an object of desire while she’s at work. She’s dying for a real man to make real advances upon her. In one entirely unnecessary flashback, she invites a date to her apartment, takes off her bra, licks her lips at the sight of her reflection—“her unrestrained breasts were full and firm . . . and her nipples were clearly outlined”—and then pouts when her date won’t take the hint. Over the course of the investigation, she becomes attracted to both O’Malley and Michaels; when she sleeps with Michaels, she silently marvels at “Shannon’s stamina.”

.. it’s full of recognizable pet ideas. Housing projects are “moral sinkholes”; inner-city children are “unfeeling predators.” A Latino detective succeeds in his department because “his strategy included overlooking petty crap like prejudice.”

.. It’s impossible to take in the steady stream of coldly rendered violence in O’Reilly’s novel without remembering his daughter’s court testimony that he choked his ex-wife and dragged her down the stairs by the neck.

.. Being on TV was like a drug to him and when it was taken away from him, he had to find a substitute drug

Jonah Goldberg: Mutants and Identity Politics

Many of us, including those who are now shocked, said years ago that if Obamacare passed, it would radically, and perhaps permanently, change the relationship between the individual and the state. Now, many of the same people are gobsmacked that Paul Ryan says the fix has to happen over time and in three stages.

.. I could also bepop and scat about how if you nominate and elect a man of Nixonian domestic-policy instincts, you shouldn’t be stunned when he pursues Nixonian policies. Blaming Ryan for proposing a plan that could pass the requirements of the White House strikes me as more than a bit cowardly.

.. While I disagree with Trump ideologically, politically I find myself in the uncomfortable place of being more sympathetic to his predicament than some of his longtime boosters who have suddenly discovered the Rorschach test they’ve been staring at isn’t a window on the real world;

.. Again, I don’t much like the House health-care plan as proposed. But when you are in a crappy situation, you shouldn’t be too haughty about the fact that the solutions are pretty crappy too.

.. Trump came into office promising everything would be easy. A lot of people chose to believe him. That was foolish. It also wasn’t Paul Ryan’s fault.

.. The Danes, you see, have set out to make Down syndrome a memory in their society by weeding out the Lebensunwertes Leben (life unworthy of life).

.. One of the most brilliant aspects of the mutant storyline in Marvel comics (now ripped off everywhere) is its political and cultural adaptability. Mutants are Jews fleeing a Holocaust. Mutants are blacks facing bigotry and segregation. Mutants are immigrants with no rights or, again, Jews with no homeland.

.. Mutants are such malleable cultural props for several reasons. First, they tap into the modern cult of identity politics: that our political or cultural self-conception is a hardwired fact of nature

.. Mutants are also definitionally non-conformists, and non-conformity is the new conformity. (The mutants who choose to “pass” as human are considered to be living in a state of self-denial, the second greatest sin after bigotry itself).

.. Last, mutants are victims “just for being different,” which is a form of saintliness in our secular culture. Even the mutant supremacists claim the mantle of victimology and resentment

.. But if the old orthodoxy holds that most gay people are simply “born that way” (which I think is true), that means homosexuality is rooted in biology and/or genetics. And that means science can get to it. I am in no way condoning that. But it will be interesting to watch when being pro-life becomes a staple of the gay Left.

.. I’m a big subscriber to the view that science and technology drive culture and politics far more than we appreciate and, quite often, far more than ideas

.. A Slovakian Horatio Alger — who looks like a member of the Ukrainian politburo circa 1974, who swam the Danube to escape the Communists, and got a degree from Milton Friedman — is easy to talk about in an entertaining way, which is what I did.

.. Intellectually, I’ve always had at least a vague understanding of the Christian idea of “God is love.”

.. I often talk about the importance of family and marriage to civil society. The decline of volunteerism and social trust is, in my view, most attributable to the decline of the family in America. (As Charles Murray likes to note, single men rarely coach Little League — we do that kind of thing because our wives make us.) When I look at how much good work — better work than the state could ever do — was done by Donna, it reminds me how even the best government programs are a poor substitute for the organic work of communities.

.. Pedants like to say there’s no such thing as “very unique.” I don’t think that’s true. For instance, we say that each snowflake is unique. That’s true. No two snowflakes are alike. But that doesn’t mean that pretty much all snowflakes aren’t very similar. But, imagine if you found a snowflake that was ten feet in diameter and hot to the touch, I think it’d be fair to say it was very unique.

Women in Power: Novel Herland

In 1915 Charlotte Perkins Gilman published a funny but unsettling story called Herland. As the title hints, it’s a fantasy about a nation of women – and women only – that has existed for two thousand years in some remote, still unexplored part of the globe. A magnificent utopia: clean and tidy, collaborative, peaceful (even the cats have stopped killing the birds), brilliantly organised in everything from its sustainable agriculture and delicious food to its social services and education. And it all depends on one miraculous innovation. At the very beginning of its history, the founding mothers had somehow perfected the technique of parthenogenesis. The practical details are a bit unclear, but the women somehow just gave birth to baby girls, with no intervention from men at all. There was no sex in Herland.