I heard – alright, overheard – a most ridiculous statement last week:
“Women only know how to write about women”.
I’ll just leave that with you for a moment.
In case you had any doubt, yes, the offending words were male in origin, uttered to another bloke standing beside him. But worst of all, he said such blasphemy in front of a beautiful stand of books.
I didn’t say anything. I’m sure he hadn’t even noticed I was standing behind him. Still, it took all my strength not to tap him on the shoulder, and list all the multitude of ways he was wrong – starting with the fact that women have been writing utterly absorbing male perspectives for centuries.
If I had said anything, he’d have realised I’d been eavesdropping. And honestly, did I really want to waste my time on him? No sir, not when I could brood about what he’d said all the way home… before rushing to my computer to write this blog to prove what we all already know.
He was wrong.
How wrong? Why don’t you take a look at this list of these out of the ordinary narrators and decide for yourself:
An African elephant – Barbara Gowdy pulls of an amazing feat with her novel ‘The White Bone’ putting the reader in the shoes… or should that be the toes… of a heard of African elephants.
A horse – Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty is a classic for a reason. If you can get through her ‘autobiography of a horse’ without shedding a single tear you’re made of stronger stuff than I am.
A fly – Rebecca Miller gives her famous playwright father Arthur a run for his money when it comes to originality with her novel ‘Jacob’s Folly, which sees the narrator transformed into a literal ‘fly on the wall’.
A tree – Ursula Le Guin’s short story ‘The Direction of the Road’ examines the changing history of a road, as observed by the centuries old tree that sits beside it.
A five-year-old boy – Emma Donohue’s Room is told through the eyes of a small child who knows nothing of the world outside of the small one he inhabits.