Whenever I swear (I’m trying to do it less often), make an inappropriate joke (ok, quite often) or give her a sarcastic answer (almost always), my mom says that’s not lady-like. I know. I’m 26 and she’s still saying things like that. The only thing that has changed from my teens is that now I have a fiancée to agree with her. But, the point is, apparently, I’m not very lady-like.
I refused to accept that idea until I read Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You. It’s wonderful. Hilarious, heartbreaking and blatantly honest. Seriously, all those ingredients I mentioned last week that are a part of me but seem to be missing in my writing? All there in his. The honesty that borders cruelty, the sarcasm spicing up the relationships, the attitude. It’s all there! Which brought me to the conclusion that my mother might be right. At least as a writer, I might be a bit of a tomboy.
Which is surprising, really. My room is decorated in bright pink and purple. I get my nails done every week and the nail polish is often bright pink or red. I love dresses. And I’m completely, irremediably, obsessed with weddings. Aside from the fact that I can’t wear heels, I believe I’m as girly as a girl can be.
But maybe this is it. Remember the discussion about genres and labels we had a few months ago? This might be the answer. Men write about relationships too. This Is Where I Leave You could’ve been by Jennifer Weiner. Except it couldn’t. And I don’t know why, because Weiner is certainly sarcastic. Her latest novel, Fly Away Home, actually is a lot like This Is Where I Leave You in many ways. But there’s something there... That voice, that dryness, that level of exposition of raw emotions…. I don’t know exactly what it is, but something in Tropper’s writing made it different. I can finally see the difference between what is considered women’s fiction from what Tropper writes (Literary? Mainstream? These genres are so confusing).
And the best news of all? Different is good. It doesn’t make one better or more important or more deserving of praise than the other. But there’s something different there, and that discovery has been quite liberating. I can love both genres. I can relate to both Weiner’s and Tropper’s writing. And, most importantly, I can take elements from both. Who said I can’t mix and match?
So, from now on, I might start writing like a man. One that enjoys romance, and girly talk and pink, of course…