I sat down to read The Kaiju Preservation Society, the latest novel from one of my favorite authors, John Scalzi. Right away, the protagonist is introduced as Jamie, an ambiguously gendered name. No hint right away whether the character is male or female. No problem, I’ll just keep reading, and I’m sure it will be cleared up soon.
Halfway into the second chapter, I realized I was distracted from the story because I was focusing my attention on not missing the first word that clears up the mystery. So I stopped. And then I realized, John Scalzi is just the sort of progressive who would do that on purpose.
So I Googled, and yup, he doesn’t give it away through the whole story.
I have no problem with non-binary gender. If he had introduced Jamie as a character who is non-binary, or gender fluid, or wants to be gender ambiguous, I’d be fine with that. It would become part of my mental picture of the character, and I’d be able to finish the story. I also don’t have any problem with an author expanding my mind.
I’m just not in the mood to have my mind forcibly expanded by being fucked with directly and intentionally by the author. That’s not why I read pulp fiction.
Also, I may already have a pet peeve about literary gimmicks.
So, on to the next book in the TBR list.
While we’re on the topic, I also started and then abandoned The Peregrine by J. A. Baker when I realized that it wasn’t fiction. I probably missed that because it was recommended by Werner Herzog during his MasterClass on filmmaking, and even though I’m aware he also makes documentaries, I had dismissed that from my mental image of him, because I’m only interested in narrative films, and so why would a narrative filmmaker recommend a non-fiction book during a class on filmmaking?