Tony Clifton drops in and out of this podcast, while Frank discusses the vital importance of men reading. 85% of men in prison grew up without a dad. Men who read become leaders and maintain a cohesive family unit, statistically speaking. Men reading more fiction may, in fact, be the solution to all of the world’s most dire problems. (Maybe.) Listen in and find out if this is pure madness or crystalline genius!

Tony Clifton has nothing to do with men reading. That’s just for fun.

The audio player above uses Flash. For the show on, please click this linky.

Show Notes:

Tony Clifton
The REAL Writers Group in Austin, Texas
Bull – Men’s Fiction
The Art of Manliness – Why Men Should Read More Fiction
Esquire – Men’s Fic E-Book Series
Robert Bly
The Secret of NIMH
Dandy Lion Studio

A Car Crash of Sorts
Almost Home
The Whirligig


The Demise of Guys:

Posted by Frank Marcopolos

Frank Marcopolos founded "The Whirligig" literary magazine in 1999, which has been called "a landmark, demonstrating the power of the literary underground." It has been said that "you get this true lion-roaring sense that Editor Frank Marcopolos knows what he likes, and how to read, and how to publish, and he has guts, and eats insects on Wheaties with bleach." His long-form fiction has been reviewed with such praise as "thorough-goingly entertaining" and "highly readable...recalls the style of Michael Chabon or John Irving. A literary gem that should not be missed." A broadcasting-school graduate, his unique literary-audio work has been featured in movie trailers, scholastic environments, and on YouTube, with one of his audiobooks achieving over 100,000 "views" there.


  1. Hey David,

    I’m going to post this on your blog and my blog, because…well, why not? I finally got a chance to read the Adam Johnson story and the Eugenides story. Both excellent, both enlightening in terms of the subject you address in your essay. And I agree with your main thesis that somehow it seems that LOVE as a subject matter in serious fiction seems to have lost its ability to capture the imagination of the male reading public, for whatever reason. I would guess that there are cultural factors at play, such as the fact that according to Madison Avenue all men are supposedly interested in as consumers are sports and razors with an ever-increasing number of blades on them. I do think that kind of thing–considering how saturated we are in advertising all day long–has some carry-over effect, however, it’s hard to quantify, of course.

    The other thing to consider, I think, is the second half of the equation for men, which is WORK. As our nation’s economy has become less agricultural, less industrial, and more service-oriented, more information/tech-oriented (as shown brilliantly in “Nirvana.”) How has this affected the minds of men and their ability to find value and worth through work? We have, after all, evolved from a place of using our bodies as a way to perform labor and survive. Now, our physical capabilities are less important to succeeding in our culture. So, what is the cumulative effect of all that, and how is that reflected in our serious fiction? Because the people writing our serious fiction are folks who are a product of their environment, as are we all.

    So, those are some of my initial thoughts when juxtaposing your essay, “Nirvana,” and “Find the Bad Guy.” But what I’d really love is to have an ongoing dialogue about these kinds of issues because I think that’s sorely lacking at the moment.

    P.S. I’ve persuaded my writing group to read a critique “Find the Bad Guy” for our next meeting, which will be in early January. Should be interesting, and I’ll discuss it on the podcast, of course.

  2. This is a great Podcast. Well stated and in the way most of us MFs need to hear. Good luck with your work. I will check your stuff out.

    1. Hey David, Thanks for the kind words. I did enjoy your article, and agree with your thesis. As far as calling it “Dick Lit,” I’m OK with that. I’m not really partial to any kind of genre title. Men’s fiction, lad lit, dick lit, gent fic… it’s all good, so long as men get to reading fiction! That’s the important thing, in my mind, especially having worked in the prison system and seeing what a LACK of the skills reading fiction builds does for too many of our countrymen. It’s a vital issue, and I’m glad people like you are taking it on with such seriousness, intelligence, and truth.

  3. You hit on something big when you talk about how being read to as a kid unleashes your imagination. That’s what happens when we read in general. I think there’s something very important to that. If you’re not reading fiction, your imagination is probably rather stunted. Having imagination is the fundamental prerequisite for success. (You quote stuff on Theory of Mind). That’s imagination at work. You have to be able to imagine other points of view; goals that can be attained; solutions to stuff in your way, etc. etc.

  4. So, I’m listening to your podcast now Frank. I have been reading Bull Fiction and the Esquire fiction series. I’m waiting for you, though, to say “Dick Lit.” Are you going say that? I mean, we need to call it what it is. Not talking about porn or Ero-Tica here. It is what it should be. You may be interested in my weird take on this issue (and I don’t use the term Dick-Lit either, but I probably should…). See here:

  5. socalag03  Indeed. All the more reason to get behind modern “men’s fiction,” however nebulous that term might be.

  6. frankmarcopolos socalag03 Every fiction author on this list is dead!

  7. socalag03 I don’t know if there are any “men’s” writers, per se, but there are definitely stories every male human being should read. Among these I list the following:
    “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas
    “Iron John” by Robert Bly (Non-fiction)
    “Iron John” by the Brothers Grimm
    “Indian Camp” by Ernest Hemingway
    “Bluebeard” by Charles Perralt
    “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
    “Last Day of the Last Furlough” by J.D. Salinger
    “William Wilson” by Edgar Allan Poe
    “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain
    “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad
    “The Fisher King/Perceval” by Chretien de Troyes
    “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce
    “The Lady, or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton
    “The Nightingale” by Hans Christian Andersen
    I’m sure there are others, but those are the ones that come most immediately to mind.

  8. frankmarcopolos socalag03 What authors might you consider “men’s” writers?

  9. socalag03As to what IS men’s fiction, that is certainly up for debate. Esquire’s Esitor in Chief, David Granger also
    “plot-driven and exciting, where one thing happens after another. And
    also at the same time, dealing with passages in a man’s life that seem
    That’s pretty vague and strange. In these areas, you’d almost like someone to say, “I’m the editor and it is whatever my gut tells me it is when I read it.” You know when when you feel it, as they say.
    As far as pigeonholing, I think that’s less of an issue for me than supporting, in every way I can, any and all venues trying to get more men reading a lot of fiction. In the end, I think that’s a worthy goal.

  10. Glad to hear Saturday Show is back after a little vacation. Although for the first few minutes, I’m like, “Man, Frank’s having a stroke! Someone needs to call this in.” But you got me. Another crafty New Yorker shtick.
    What is men’s fiction? Does it take on themes that are distinctly male (e.g. fatherhood, sports) or does it simply take a male perspective on more universal themes? My concern about “Bull” is the potential to pigeonhole writers like “Oh, he writes for men.” I don’t know if I would want that. I suppose any story stands alone regardless of where it’s published. I’m just not sure I’d want to publish in such a narrow bandwidth. I guess it’s all in the framing.

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