Stereotyping People by Author Favorites

Does your favorite author(s) reveal your stereotype?

Image courtesy of In the Palm of Your Hand

I have to admit some of my favorite authors here: J.K. Rowling, Leo Tolstoy, Ayn Rand, Jane Austen, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Faulkner, and George Orwell. Granted I consider an author a favorite if I’ve read more than one piece by said author and remember the story well, so there’s a couple more on the list that I really like though I’ve had less exposure to them (Joseph Conrad , C.S. Lewis and Jorge Louis Borges).

Clearly the list is not all-encompassing (for instance, where was Herman Melville??), but it was entertaining nonetheless. There are quite a few creative stereotypes there; I giggled aloud when I read the stereotype for Dan Brown, Harper Lee and Tucker Max reader faves.

Also, there are a couple of authors on the list whose works I generally dislike for one reason or another: Albert Camus, Sylvia Plath, and Margaret Atwood. But that doesn’t mean I dislike girls who went to art school, keep journals and/or love hunter green…

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2 Responses to Stereotyping People by Author Favorites

  1. As with people, I think it’s best not to play favorites- and I suppose so as not to be stereotyped, it serves the same purpose. With people, and Authors, they may do, say, or write something you like one day, and then something you dislike on another day, so I wouldn’t want to be associated to or defined by that person, action or work, by claiming they are a favorite of any kind.

    I am the person who when asked where I am from (a question severely mis-used in my peer group), answers with my place of birth (Brooklyn NY) and follow up with “raised in Queens”- knowing that’s not what the person asking is looking for- but it’s what they asked- so that’s what they get. If I feel generous I’ll offer them the origins of my parents, and let them know that the relevance will not help them categorize or classify me to their needed comfort level because I was raised as the American I was born to be, and despite the color of my skin in the summer after a couple visits to the beach, that ends the similarities I would share with their cultures- so they’ll just have to get to know me as a person instead. God forbid.

    Same goes for the tattoo I mistakenly put on my hand as a very-very misguided youth, not knowing it is sometimes seen as a mark akin to a correctional facility resident- which I have since burned off with acid because I would rather an approaching classifier of my persona lean towards concern for a scar than think they know something about me so condemning before I have the opportunity to even speak.

    Suffice to say I take stereotyping- which I believe is truly rooted in some factual aspect of any culture- seriously.

    So if you see the Stephen King shelf in my house- don’t assume I’ve read any of them, but instead admire the Author’s ability to produce so much content (albeit elementary content in my opinion) in one sitting- something to the effect of seven or eight standard formatted pages of usable content a day? I forget how many words that is.

    If you see the shelf of Chuck Palahniuk’s works, don’t assume I’m still a fan having been put off by his inability to represent himself as the gay man he is from the beginning of his notariety- but rather waiting till he had some secure success before he came out. Or that I haven’t outgrown his style of writing either. Nevermind the signed copies.

    But if you don’t see the Brett Easton Ellis or two that I’ve lent out to friends here and there- Or the Dave Eggers, or David Foster Wallace buried under a couch or a pillow somewhere- or the JT Leroy I lost, or the Pable Neruda sandwiched between the Shakespear collection and the old library books on Existentialism and Communism I saved from being thrown in the trash once… then I guess you won’t have the opportunity to really classify me appropriately and well, is there a stereotype for that kind of guy anyway?

    • Aaron says:

      Those kinds of questions are all about signalling. I’m from here, like this, do this, work at that. Infer away. So they way I interpret your last paragraph is “I get the intent of the question, and will game it by over- and contra-signaling.”

      Kind of like how when Lucielle Bluth spoke to the waitress – ” I don’t understand the question, and I won’t respond to it,” minus the ‘understand’ part. So I just meta-signaled.

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