I finished reading The Sea by John Banville yesterday. Its not a book that I engaged with easily and at the end I was left feeling slightly cheated, expecting it to have some heavy emotional impact but leaving me with nothing more than a disconcerting feeling. Maybe it was a book beyond my intellectual capability or I just didn't invest enough into it. The prose was certainly heavy going and Banville's convoluted style I found easy to get lost in and not find a way out. Not my best read of this year by a long margin. I've now picked up Iain Banks' Dead Air, which is a much more readable book by comparison to The Sea although admittedly it does not aspire to such high literary heights as Banville's work. Maybe this is more my niche. The solid, none too demanding novel. I often wonder if I lack anything cultured in my tastes. I think I am simple in my approach to books. I want to read something with a straight message, writing that engages easily and leaves no doubt as to its purpose and direction.
I count amongst my favourite authors Arthur C Clarke, Patricia Highsmith, Jon McGregor and Stephen King. They are all writers that I connect too in some way and whose work not only I understand but intuitively feel, if that is the right word. You'll notice too that all but Highsmith are male authors. Somehow, with the exception of Highsmith, I just can't bring myself to read books written by women. Completely daft I know and I am not sure why I have this disregard for female writers. After all they are surely as accomplished and skilled as their male counterparts and probably more so when it comes to understanding the human psyche and emotions.
This is quite profound. I've never thought about it before and I've just checked my bookshelves and yes, there are no books by female authors apart from Highsmith and one solitary entry from Annie Proulx - Brokeback Mountain. Does this say something profound about me? Does it point to a deep down mistrust of women writers or an inherent prejudice? I don't consciously feel either of these things.
Next time I am in a bookshop I am going to deliberately look for books by female authors. There must be others out there apart from Highsmith, whose writing will appeal to men and me specifically, isn't there?