“…how can a man be so headstrong about not asking for directions, and such a wimp about pain?” These, and other answers can be found in the collection of essays titled What I Meant to Say: the Private Lives of Men edited by Ian Brown. Although not all my questions about men were answered (which would be, quite frankly impossible, as I’m sure most women would admit), this collection certainly helped to put things into perspective about the opposite sex. It also assured me that my husband is a lot like the other guys out there, because although he does things that drive me crazy (like become completely absorbed with some mundane fact at the most inopportune time), most other women are cursing their husbands under their breath for the exact same reasons, so for this realization alone I recommend reading this book.
A book like this is just begging to be discussed in a group setting, so the Writers Guild of Alberta and Wordfest are getting together for their annual Freedom to Read Week event to hash it all out. This should be an interesting talk, because although two women are leading the discussion, I’m sure the men in the room will have lots to say as well! In fact, I’m really hoping our male audience are feeling chatty that day, because I’ll be one of those women asking the questions!
The Private Lives of Men contains essays on various topics: shopping, sex, manliness, observations of motherhood, etc. And what I truly enjoyed about this book was the variety of voices and tones each piece contained; the whole gamut of emotions are touched upon. What links each essay together is the brutal honesty of each man. Sometimes they say things that are hard for us (as women) to hear, but you can’t fault an author for telling it like it is, especially when this appears to be the intention of the entire work. Is reading about Ian Brown visiting strip clubs strange? Of course it is, especially when it’s contrasted to his difficult home life that has him dealing with his son’s disability. However, I appreciated his candor, and the writing is never offensive, so I don’t want people to be scared off by this.
Have I piqued your interest enough? Don’t you want to hear what all the guys have to say about this book now? I sure do! Admission is free for the event, which is taking place at 7pm on February 23 at the Barley Mill Pub in Eau Claire Market, Calgary, so please do RSVP to ensure you get a seat.
Have many men RSVP’d to your knowledge? I did but I am still debating whether to attend. I have had a hard time engaging in the book and I am not certain if my queer experience of manhood can add to to the discussion.
Unfortunately I don’t have access to that information, but WGA and Wordfest events are typically a good mix of genders!
Hi there! Anne – thanks for the great blog post!
In response to *roughghosts* – we would love to see you there and welcome your honest thoughts on the book. To my knowledge we expect about a dozen men to attend – and not all of them are straight. That said, it can be difficult to predict exactly how attendance will shake out at free events. I am one of the organizers and I coach Calgary’s LGBTQ swim club, so I’d be very interested to hear what you think. Hope you decide to join us.