I recently went to a movie with a bunch of girlfriends, some of whom I hadn't seen in forever. After the movie we went back to someone's place for drinks and sat talking movies and books and TV and life.
I discovered that three or four of us regularly watch an English TV show called Top Gear. It's about cars, more or less. English and European cars, mostly. We were chatting enthusiastically about favorite segments and half the group stared at us as if we'd suddenly morphed into aliens.
The conversation went like this:
"I'd never watch that show -- it's all about cars. I have no interest in cars."
"Me too. My husband and son never miss it so I use the time to catch up on housework."
Three women said, more or less simultaneously -- "We don't watch it for the cars." "Oh, so these three guys are really hot, right?"
"No, they're not hot at all."
"Huh? So why?"
We explained. A big part of the fascination of the program for women lies in the glimpse we get into guy-world. It's really all about boys and their toys and the way they're so competitive with each other - about the fastest, the most powerful, the best. They don't hold back, either.
And the interaction between the guys is funny and entertaining. They're always coming up with crazy (and often dangerous) challenges. One time one of the guys raced the other two from a town in England to a Swiss village -- one driving his car flat out, night and day, the others going by planes, trains and buses. The car won by a nose.
The discussion got me thinking. Last year, after a lifetime of avoiding vampire books (apart from the Bram Stoker original) I glommed the J.R. Ward vampire books. I didn't just glom, I read the first book and I started the second book that same night, then got up in the morning and finished it. Then I jumped in the car and raced to my bookshop to get books #3 and #4 of the series before the shop closed for the weekend. It's been a while since that happened to me.
And it occurred to me that a big part of the appeal for me of J.R. Ward's vampire world is the glimpse we get of the close community of guys and the way they interact. She's not the only author who does this well. Often a series is linked by a group of guys related in some way: by blood, or by experience. For instance in my new series the heroes are all guys who've been to war together, which makes for powerful bonds.
So what do you think is the appeal of peeking into guy-world? And what books or authors do you think do it really well?