Reading, Writing, and Ranting

April 23, 2010

This is going to be an odd commentary. Iíve been struggling with several things I wanted to cover in a commentary but was unsure how to tie them all in. That struggling stopped when I just stumbled across a great article written by an author friend of mine named Jason Pinter. I first came in contact with Jason when he worked for Warner Books as an editorís assistant, or something along those lines. Jason had worked on some of David Morrellís (another author friend of mine) books, and at the time I was featuring one of Davidís books in my book club. Jason was and perhaps still is a big wrestling fan so when he learned about my book club he reached out to me.

We became friends online, and Jason helped introduce me to many new authors that I in turn featured in my book club. We eventually met in person, when I was in NY with WWE, and Jason gave me a tour of Warner Books (I left the building with as many books as I could carry) and I got Jason tickets to the WWE show at MSG. Jason eventually became an author in his own right and has published several novels the first of which ďThe MarkĒ I featured in my book club. There is one other distinction of Jasonís that I want to point out before getting on to his article and my commentary and thatís that one of Jasonís last acts at Warner Books was to sign the deal to publish ďA Lionís TaleĒ Chris Jerichoís autobiography. It is a small world after all.

With all that background out of the way go read Jasonís article. There is an awesome story there about how a 15 year old kid was the one who made the call on whether Jerichoís book would get published or not, and it will provide background for the rest of my commentary.

Jason Pinter's Article: Click Here

Obviously I donít know the true extent of the female bias in publishing that Jason refers to in the article but it does perhaps explain something that has been bothering me with the series of books Iím currently reading. After constant insistence from Mark Pink, one of my loyal Book Marks readers, I started reading Vince Flynnís Mitch Rapp series. Mark thought I would like the series and when I picked up the first book ďTransfer of PowerĒ he was proven correct. Mitch Rapp is a bad ass, CIA Special Forces counter terrorism assassin, type guy, and I liked the character immediately.

Iím just about finished the 4th book in the series ďExecutive PowersĒ and unfortunately my love for the character and this series is just about gone. I was originally going to type a rant burying Mr. Flynn for ruining his main character and killing this great series but after reading Jasonís article Iím left wondering if it isnít Vince Flynnís publisher that I should be yelling at.

Let me explain the series briefly (no spoilers) and my issues with the newer books. ďTransfer of PowerĒ in my opinion is a male targeted book. The lead character is Mitch Rapp a tough no nonsense guy who shots first, never misses, and kills the bad guys, dead. Heís a more refined more intelligent Rambo type character. I have no doubt that some women enjoy reading about Mitch but I think itís safe to say the bulk of the readership of this series is guys. In the second and third books Mitch is involved with a female character and relationship woes become a part of the story, which really pissed me off. I do not like the female character and to create relationship tension Mr. Flynn was having people act inconsistent with their established characters. This annoyed me so much in the third book ďSeparation of PowerĒ that I swore if Anne (the female character in question) was in further books I was going to stop reading this series.

Foolishly I pushed ahead to the forth book and things have gotten a whole lot worse and unless Anne gets killed off by the end of this book, Iím done reading Vince Flynn for good and will move on to other authors. My problem in this book is that the relationship woes created between Mitch and Anne seem completely removed and contradictory to the rest of the story and all but turn Mitch Rapp into a whipped, love struck idiot that I have no use for. Mr. Flynn has completely neutered his main character, and it is turning me off as a reader and I suspect itís doing the same for other male readers.

This is where I think Jasonís article ties in. Iím wondering now if Vince Flynn was pressured to focus more on the personal relationship in the novel in order to appeal to more female readers, perhaps even using the argument that not enough men read, to support the series by themselves. If pressure like this was applied and it sounds like this does happen, it becomes a dangerous self fulfilling prophecy. A publisher wants to attract more women to the series, ďbecause not enough men readĒ, so the author alters his work, which in turn drives off his male readership, and you end up proving your original statement. Iím sorry but I just donít buy that Americaís number 1 weapon in the War against terror is going to risk national security and the lives of his fellow troops, just because his wife nags him until he caves in. Absolute bullshit Mr. Flynn!

Men do read; Iím a man and I read constantly. I read between 50-60 novels pre year. I own an Amazon Kindle and absolutely love it, but cantí help but notice that almost every add on Amazon.com, promoting the Kindle, features women reading the Kindle not men. Men are not big illiterate meat heads, at least not all of us.

I donít know whoís at fault for the neutering of Mitch Rapp and the ruining of a previously great series, but Iíd certainly like to find out and would love to hear from someone who knows or has read some or all of the series and has an opinion one way or the other. I am a loyal and veracious reader and after purchasing 4 Vince Flynn books in a little over a month, Iíve been turn off as a reader/customer, which is a real shame.

In closing I do want to suggest everyone, be you male or female, go buy a book and or a Kindle too. Itís a great form of entertainment and we need to support authors and their great skills at story telling. If we donít support authors we donít only lose the books they write, but the movies that are based them. There some great reads out there and guys if you need something with a little testosterone, here are some of my favourites.

David Morrell: Brotherhood of the Rose
Marcus Wynne: No Other Option
Douglas E. Winter: RUN
Dan Simmons: Joe Kurtz series
Richard Stark: Parker series
Lee Child: Jack Reacher series
F. Paul Wilson: Repairman Jack series
Greg Rucka: Atticus Kodiak series
Lawrence Block: Matthew Scudder series


Good Reading everyone,
Lance