Friday, August 7, 2009

Russo a Mysogynist?

In a recent Newsweek review of Richard Russo’s new novel, That Old Cape Magic, reviewer Jennie Yabroff asks, “Is Author Richard Russo A Misogynist?” Yabroff’s review—which is subtitled “He might have won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, but his female characters are flat, contrived, and maybe even insulting.”—has made a lot of people very angry.

Edward Champion posts “An Open Letter to Newsweek’s Richard Smith and Jon Meacham” that concludes:
I demand an explanation for how you could allow so many mistakes and so many curdish and tone-deaf observations to pass through your ratty cheesecloth.
The Elegant Variation thinks:
labelling a hard working (and from what we've heard, generally decent) writer with the label misogynist simply because he doesn't write fully realized dimensional female characters - perhaps he's simply a writer who's reached the limit of his gifts - is a cheap shot that's beneath Newsweek. It's irresponsible and disheartening. The race to the bottom has a new frontrunner.
Bethanne Patrick at The Book Studio has a less enraged, but equally thoughtful, response. Personally, I’ve read a fair amount of Russo, and I agree with the dissenters. Misogynist he is not. In Yabroff’s defense, though, Russo’s female characters aren’t his strength.


Harvey said...

I thought the Newsweek piece was way over the top. Unfortunately, his latest novel is far from his best work. See my review to be published in this week's newsletter.

Lit and Life said...

I'm not sure how you make the leap from "flat" and "contrived" to "misogynistic." I just take authors that write flat and contrived characters to be authors that need to brush up on their game.

Anonymous said...

It does not logically follow that a write who poorly develops female characters does not like women. It's weak empirically, too. Newsweek should not have published the review, in my opinion.

Zibilee said...

I think it's silly to say that someone who can't really write a great female lead is a misogynist. Perhaps he is just better at portraying characters that share his gender, and just has a bit of a weakness in writing a compelling female characters.