Recently, my girlfriend came home late, sat down on the bed and said she noticed that I really never read books by women. She thinks that's weird and thought she was talking to her. Which annoyed me because I was reading the latest novel by Michel Houellebecq.
I looked up from my book and explained to her that that was not true, that at most I read more men's books, which was kind of logical, because men sometimes published more than women. Of course not because they have more talent but because of systemic reasons. Then I read on. The protagonist's little Japanese girlfriend has just been fucked by two Dobermans. It was all very interesting.
No, that's not true, said my girlfriend; and I began to suspect that she had been drinking. Also, to current books of women, which would be discussed in the newspapers or in the circle of friends, I would rarely have an opinion, because I would not have read. Not even Elena Ferrante! I would not catch up with that to be able to have a say. That's surprising, said my friend, because otherwise I would always like to discuss.
I put the book aside and turned to her. Maybe she's kind of right, I said. By now I was sure I could smell alcohol. She must understand, however, that my interest in these books is dwindling if I had already heard her and her friends discussing it. If she understands that.
My friend said she understood, but did not sound like that at all. She asked me to enumerate which novels of authors I have read lately. I explained to her that I always forgot everything as soon as I finished a book, and could not just remember now. I found, slowly, an arrogant expression over her face. Then I had a flash of inspiration.
With a triumphant cry, I got up from the bed and told my friend that all this discussion was obsolete. For I am, as everyone would know, a great admirer of JK Rowling and the Harry Potter series. Moreover, I would know her inside out, and one could argue that Rowling is the greatest author of our time. If not all times.
My friend said that did not count because that's what every man would say. And it's also about reading books that have a female perspective. But Harry Potter is a man. And also sorcerers. At least I think she said that. I did not listen to her because I listed Hercule Poirot stories by Agatha Christie, which I remembered. And of course the Commissario Brunetti novels by Donna Leon. But my stubborn girlfriend did not let it all apply.
Angry, I went into the living room to take out of the bookcase all my novels of women and throw them at her feet. But then I came back empty-handed. Because I thought, you would have to solve this dispute in other ways.
Why do you think, I asked, that I do not read books by women? She thought for a moment, saying that she believed that men, especially journalists like me, actually always wanted to write a novel for themselves at some point. And reading the novels of men, reading the stories of male protagonists, would fuel that desire. One always keeps reading the prospect of being the author himself. In a novel from a female point of view, this effect is not there.
I thought of all the colleagues who praised their novels in social networks. Most of all, I thought that this argument was a great basis for an article by me, and later, when my girlfriend slept, secretly took notes.