Saturday, January 20, 2007

Girls Write Too!

I really don't know how I feel about this idea from Feminist Press.

They are creating a new series of books called "Two by Two," in which a feminist writer is paired with a male writer's work. For instance, the two offerings that they have coming out soon are Grace Paley with Robert Nichols and Tille Olsen with Leo Tolsoy. It seems like they are trying to match writers both tonally and through subject matter.

On the surface, this is a great idea. It brings a larger publication profile to women writers and it includes women into the larger canon of literature. Feminist writers especially have been relegated to the footnotes of history, rather than given equal time. Even though their press runs will be small, these boutique books could become collector's items, in time.

But, something about the side-by-side pairings creates this "whatever you can do, I can do better" ambiance. Especially in a pairing like Tille Olsen and Leo Tolstoy, when Olsen could have an entirely different and separate artistic enterprise that has nothing to do with Tolstoy's. It raises the question as to where women writers belong: in the larger pantheon of establishment writing or in a pantheon of their own?