I'm a woman. I read books. In particular, I read and love a series by George R.R. Martin. But don't tell Ginia Bellafante that.
Bellafante, a critic for The New York Times, has reviewed the new HBO series "Game of Thrones." The show, which premieres Sunday, is based on the four-book fantasy series by GRRM. It promises to be lavish in scale and epic in storytelling, and fans of the books have been atwitter for months waiting for the show's premiere.
Based on her review, Ballafante doesn't seem terribly impressed with the show, or the fantasy genre as a whole. That I can forgive; everyone is entitled to her opinion. But this passage cannot stand unchallenged:
The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this (sexual) illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.
To be blunt, Ms. Ballafante, you're wrong. And I'm sorry that your literary circle is so closed off that none of your friends have ever recommended an amazing new fantasy book to you. Remind me not to accept an invitation to any of your book clubs.
To dismiss this show and the books it is based on as boy fiction is breathtakingly short-sighted and flat-out wrong. It's insulting to the men who have read the books, and it's an extra affront to the women who have done the same. These are sprawling, meticulously constructed books that feature intricate world building and characters so rich and broad that they're practically four-dimensional. And guess what? The books feature sex. Lots of it. It was in the novels to begin with, and it wasn't dropped into the show as an afterthought to lure the wimmins or other weak-minded folk. The sex is there because this is a book about people, and people lie and scheme and joke and fall in love and hurt each other and forgive each other and, oh yeah, they also have sex.
I'll admit that I'm at a disadvantage in this debate because I haven't seen a full episode of the show yet. But you know what? I'm guessing Ballafante hasn't cracked the spine on a single one of GRRM's novels, either. Perhaps if she did, she'd see what she was missing. Then she can join the rest of the women who are browsing the sci fi/fantasy section at the local bookstore. If I bump into her there, I'd be glad to recommend a good Robin Hobb series for her to read next.