"J. B. brought those three books [referred to in the May 5 Journal Excerpt] to work. They were Making U-Hoo, Unwary Heart, and Me Natalie. All I can say is her intentions were good.
"Saw an accident (already crashed, police there, etc.) on way home from work. Someone ran into a pole."
MANHOOD REDO: I have to admit that the three book titles make me curious. After doing some digging around on the web, I found out that Making U-Hoo, which sounds like a corny romance novel trying to imitate a 1930s or 1940s movie is actually a mystery by Irving A. Greenfield. He might not have been a well respected author since he doesn't have his own website and he's not listed in Wikipedia, but he wrote a lot of books, and a used hardback of Making U-Hoo is being sold on Amazon.co.uk for over 78 pounds and the U. S. Amazon for over $100. You can buy the paperback for $2.90, though. So I'm not sure what to make of him.
I would guess that Me Natalie was a novelization of the movie by the same name, which there is a Wikipedia entry on. It's a 1969 dramedy directed by Fred Coe, in which Natalie, played by Patty Duke, feels she is an ugly duckling. Her father hatches a plan to marry her; she finds out that it's a set up and leaves home for Greenwich Village, where she becomes a cocktail waitress, lives the bohemian lifestyle, and gets involved with a married man. When she finds out he's married, she considers suicide, but he convinces her she's beautiful and worthwhile. I'm tempted to see if it's available on Netflix.
The last book, Unwary Heart, was a Harlequin Romance, I believe, by Anne Hampson. It looks like Ms. Hampson wrote a lot of books. That's really all I can say about her.
Even today it would be embarrassing to have a romance novel in my possession. I'd rather read a feminist book interpreting romance novels. That more clearly fits into my picture of myself. And I would be willing to see Me Natalie but not read it. Lastly, I wouldn't be inclined to read Greenfield's mystery unless it did some interesting genre-bending.
And yet there was a time when I read all these sorts of books. When I first started reading something other than comic books, I poured over everything I could get my hands on. There was no distinction between literary fiction and popular fiction. I even read a few romance novels because I was curious about them, so if I'm honest, it's really not so easy or straight forward to think of myself as a man who has never identified with these kinds of books. I remember enjoying Frank G. Slaughter novels, staying up all night reading them.
If developing a healthy masculinity is in part about reclaiming parts of ourselves as men that we've supressed or had supressed, maybe it would be worth considering finding a way to claim these novels J. B. gave me - or at least what they represent.