First: someone buy Claire Folkman more romance novels because OMG does she have it RIGHT. Books that “never give you a moment to yourself?” SO true. So wonderful and yet so awful – especially the “you don’t even know why you’re still reading.”
Is it me, or is it when you’re at your most OMGCRAZEE busy that you find the most sticky, invasive, brain-kudzu books that won’t let you think about doing anything other than reading?
In the Guardian’s recent article, An Insiders Guide to writing for Mills & Boon , Allison Flood gets schooled by Penny Jordan and Sharon Kendrick on how the romance and the heroes really work.
But wait: here, have more Claire Folkman comics about romance novels. Ah the romance, taking away precious hours from what we ought to be doing, and we love every minute.
ETA: Thanks to Laura Vivanco for this link: Katherine Orazem of the Yale Herald has written an outstanding article defending romance: In defense of romance: Proving the stereotypes wrong . Veritas nominee, ahoy. Drawing on the course at Yale being taught this semester by Lauren Willig and Andrea DaRif (disclosure: I’m a guest lecturer on a panel for that course in April 2010), Orazem writes:
despite the fact that this sort of indictment of the genre was first raised by feminist critics, there are ways in which the critique itself can be seen as sexist. After all, doesn’t the argument that romances inculcate women with “patriarchal propaganda” deny women the ability to judge the books for themselves?
Many of the first gothic romances were decried because men saw them as sensationalist women’s fluff. That reaction is one of the reasons Willig and DaRif chose Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen’s 1803 parody of gothic fiction, as the first book on their syllabus. The book is the author’s parody of “people’s concerns that such books would adversely affect impressionable young ladies,” DaRif said.
“Austen poked fun at the critics of the time, who were dismissive of popular novels, by basically saying, ‘You’re right, these books only deal with the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the liveliest expressions of wit and humor, and the polished nuances of language. Oh, how trite.’” Are the charges today hurled against romance really any different? Are those who criticize the sexism in romance novels simply treating modern female readers like Victorian ladies to be protected from corruptive influence?
A five-mullet salute to Ms. Orazem for this one – way to go. And thanks to Dr. Vivanco for passing the word along.