The brilliant Sara Zuiderveen pointed me to Edward Champion's Return of Tannenhaus Watch, which again is pleasing me in quite the same way as these past few links people have been sending along: the discussion of the need for women writers in positions of authority seems to be building momentum. Edward is checking on the NYT Book Review, because some of us are so depressed by its gender stats that we can't even read it anymore:
Three of the five fiction reviews are written by women. Meanwhile, only one of the eight nonfiction reviews is penned by a female.xo
We're extremely bothered by Tanenhaus's continuing inability to pair women up with nonfiction books. By contrast, a quick look over at this Sunday's Washington Post Book World section sees women covering two memoirs and a family history (along with several fiction titles). While the troubling problem of women reviewers relegated to fiction and memoirs cuts across the board (for fuck's sake, why can't a woman tackle that unwieldy Galbrieth biography?), we're still scratching our heads over why Sam Tanenhaus, despite being the editor of one of the most promiment weekly book review sectiosn in the United States, can't ferret out the females.
This isn't exactly rocket science. It doesn't even take much in the way of rumination. Here's a few ideas that come immediately to mind: Jane Juska reviewing a nonfiction book about aging or sexuality, the genteel Katha Pollitt trying to figure out the state of comics, Molly Ivins covering Michael Savage's Liberalism is a Mental Disorder from a medical perspective, Dorothy Allison seeing if Jeannette Angell's Callgirl has streetcred, or just about any brave voice daring to cover Laurel Leff's forthcoming Buried by the Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper (which is in fact highly critical of the Gray Lady). Wouldn't that be a book review section worth reading? And wouldn't this be a great way to balance off the out-of-control male-to-female ratio while presenting stirring nonfiction coverage to a national audience?