Stripped is a collection with a twist. Yes, the fiction contained herein includes works from some of the best-known names in flash fiction as well as the work of emerging writers, but the bylines have been removed so you can't tell who wrote what. What's more, the stories hinge largely on gender roles -- but with the authors' identites stripped from their stories, editor Nicole Monaghan has created a bit of a guessing game. Did a woman, for example, write that piece about ambivalence toward motherhood? Or was it a man? More to the point, does it really matter? Or is there something bigger going on when men and women stretch their minds and imagine what it might be like to be the other?
Yes, that's right -- I have a story in this wonderful collection, but I can't tell you what that story is. What I can tell you is this is one of my recent favorite flash pieces. I wrote it last summer on a whim, taking a break from a novel, and wasn't sure where to send it. Then Nicole emailed asking me if I would like to contribute, which was ironic timing because the story itself was perfect for what she was looking for. So I'm very pleased to be included in here with my story, which will be matched up to my name (as well as the rest of the authors in this collection) next year at Nicole's website.
I must say, it's a great concept, because really, does the author's gender (or racial background, or religious views, etc) influence the reader?
Of course it does, even if they don't want to admit it.
There have been books in the past that I read where I immediately assumed the gender of the narrator based on the author's gender. The most recent example is Death Wishing by Laura Ellen Scott. I knew the basic idea of the novel before I started reading it, but not about the main character. So at first I thought the narrator -- the novel is written in the first person, you see -- was a woman. I was wrong.
Ultimately, does it matter what the author's gender or racial background or religious views or whatever are? Or is the story the only thing that matters?
Besides bringing readers great entertainment, hopefully this anthology will spark a lively conversation among writers and readers about the important (or lack thereof) of gender in storytelling.
There will be a launch party for Stripped on Saturday, February 4th, at Fergie’s Pub in Philadelphia. It starts at 2 pm. If you're in the area, try to stop by. I'll be there, as well as will several other contributors. We'll be reading randomly from the anthology. It will be fun!
And while I'm there, I plan to get Nicole and as many contributors as possible to sign a copy of the anthology that I plan to give away ... now.
To win a copy of Stripped signed by the editor and several of the contributors, let me know what novel or story you've read with a narrator whose gender was opposite of the author (like Death Wishing which I mentioned above, or Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King). The deadline for this giveaway contest is this Friday at midnight, EST. A name will be picked randomly as the winner the next day. Get to it!