I am reading the new translation of Madame Bovary, this one by Lydia Davis. The introduction tells us that the book is based on two actual stories, one woman a shopaholic and the other an adultress. The novel was really "faction" for Flaubert's time.
Certainly it is this book as well as Camille, Anna Karenina, The Bell Jar, novels and memoirs of women with big trouble that shaped my early career as an editor of women's fiction. Also these suffering women's stories that sold over time for lots of money formed my overarching theory of commercial publishing. Other people's problems make for great escape. And top sellers.
Over the summer I walked into the local Barnes & Noble and there in front was a table labeled Books of Affliction. Substance abusers practically back from the dead; eating disorder horror tales; victims of sexual and physical abuse; survivors of horrible incidents and illnesses. And all of them were women.
I am not sure when memoirs overtook the tales of fictional women in trouble. Perhaps it was the publication of Barbara Gordon's I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can, the story of the high powered TV exec's descent into valium addiction so terrible she had to be tied to a chair by her lover to constrain her anxiety, but it seems to me that was when other people's real problems began to be the winners in the melodrama competition. Or maybe that is just my marker. Anyway the point is they are all women.
So why women? Is it still true that men don't like to share their feelings? Or am I missing something? Enlighten me.