Wednesday, August 8, 2007

ON VIVE LA DIFFERENCE?




THE JUNGLE RED WRITERS "GUESS THE GENDER" QUIZ

Our latest blog sent us scuttling to our bookshelves and stacks, opening books at random to see if we could tell, from a few sentences, whether a man or woman had written them.

Here are four snippets from well-known, well-written mysteries. Do you think a man wrote them? Or a woman?

Why?

Post your answers in the comments...and on Saturday, we'll tell all. And hey--no Googling, gang. This is a supposed to be a thought-provoking experiment in the on-going discussion of whether there's an intrinsic male or female-ness. Not a pop quiz!

And if you have any gender-bending excerpts...let us know. We'd love to feature them next week!


#1
An anonymous van, some-kind-of-pale, cruised Summit Avenue, windows dark with the coming night. The killers inside watched three teenagers, two boys and a girl, hurrying along the sidewalk like wind-blown leaves. The kids were getting somewhere quick, finding shelter before the storm.
The killers trailed them, saw them off, then turned their faces toward Oak Walk.
The manison was an architectural remnant of the nineteeth century, red brick with green trim, gloomy and looming in the dying light. Along the wrought iron fence, well tended beds of blue and yellow iris, and clumps of pink peonies were going gray to the eye.

HOW ABOUT THIS ONE?
#2


He got out of the patrol car and attempted to take the purse to look for himself. Her scream shocked her even more than it did him. There was a fiery pain in her left forearm when he tried to slide the purse past her elbow. The patrolman spoke into his shoulder, calling for assistance. He pocketed her keys from her purse, walked back to her car, and poked around inside, then returned and stood with her in the sleeting rain that had finally started. He mumbled some familiar words to her, but was otherwise silent.
“Is it bad?” she asked him.

OR THIS ONE?
#3


Lucy saw that Peter's face was set, and that all his grinning insouciance had fled. He lifted his hands up, as if testing the limits of the restraints, and she thought she could see a great agony sweep throug him, before he turned and passively allowed Big Black to lead him down the corridor hobbled like a wild beast that could not be trusted.

OR THIS?
#4

The brakes were screeching, smoking, dust clouds rising around them. Mallory swerved to graze one animal, rocking the car onto two wheels. It slammed back to earth on all four tires, and she cut a hard right to miss the next cow. Riker was lurching the other way, and now back again toward Mallory, rolling as the car rolled over. The air bags imploded, massing up an instant and blinding him with white; it felt like a punch from a giant fist large enough to pound his chest and his gut with one mighty shot. Just as quickly, the bag deflated, and the last thing Riker saw was a fence pole coming through the windshield, missing Mallory and snapping his arm bone. A second bone hit his head.

OR THIS?
#5

Hotshot reporter Percy Crenshaw died on the last day of my thirty-second year.I'm crystal clear on the timing, because I remember precisely where I was when I got the word the following morning. I was slogging away in the misdemeanor intake unit, issuing criminal trespass after criminal trespass case, thinking to myself, This is a shitty way to spend my thirty-second birthday.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think..number one is a woman. Because of the flowers.
Although that might be a trick.

Anonymous said...

Number two is totally a woman. No man would care about missing cows.

Anonymous said...

These are all women right?

Lisa said...

Hmm...I don't have an explanation for my guesses, but my instinct when I read each excerpt was:

1. Man
2. Woman
3. Man
4. Woman
5. Woman

Usually I can tell more from the type of story, but since these are all the same genre, it's tougher. I think three of the women authors I really like "sound" more like men when they write, but I can't say why: Annie Proulx, Louise Erdrich and Marilynne Robinson.

Kaye said...

These are off-the-wall first guesses:
#1 female
#2 male
#3 male
#4 female
#5 male

I think I mainly looked at word choices and structure to decide. Maybe.
-Kaye George

Anonymous said...

Man
Woman
Woman
Man
Woman

If I win, I'll come out of lurkdom and claim my prize.
Is there a prize?

Glenda said...

Wow these are tough!
I'm guessing:
#1 male
#2 male
#3 not sure--- female??
#4 male
#5 female

I'm not sure why I think this but it was sort of based on voice and circumstances involved.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Time's running out...we're going to post the answers sometime Saturday!

Someone here is close...I won't say more than that.

Next week--another gender quiz! And we're thinking...prizes...

Anonymous said...

male
female
female
female
male

AliasMo said...

Maybe I'm letting my stereotypical impulses show, but here's my guess:
#1 Female - Something about the wind-blown leaves and the details on the flowers.
#2 Male - Just sounds that way. Very spare.
#3 Male - Actually, I thought British male.
#4 Abstain - I know the book.
#5 Female - I don't know if the author is, but the character certainly seemed to be with obsession on birthday (and females seem to get stuck with the menial jobs).

A companion questin might be: Can you tell the gender of the author from the gender of the POV character, especially in first person?

Kathryn Lilley said...

Okay I'm probably too late.
#1 male
#2 male
#3 male
#4 female
#5 female

Does the person who gets the most wrong answers get a booby prize, lol!