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Romance Stinks And You All Know It…

Monday, December 4, 2006
Posted in: Uncategorized

I came across this blog earlier today, and I thought this particular post was interesting enough to post snippets from it.

The Blogger starts by writing:

I touched on the issue of bodice rippers over the summer, but digging through some old emails in my computer reminded me of a few other points I wanted to make about a literary genre that does a lot of crying about no respect, but precious little analysis about why that is.

Rather than considering the validity of allegations of being lightweight prurient fluff, romance fanatics lash out at any and all critics, even those offering constructive criticism. I have so many examples of this, it’s not even funny. Let’s start with my favorite:

I think we all know of a few authors who have gone haywire over a bad review or two, I’m sure we don’t have to name names now do we?

Anyway she goes on to talk about everybody’s fave reviewer Harriet Klausner. Methinks she’s not too fond of the great dame herself. Who is?

This bit had me a bit confused though:

Anyone who ever tried to speak out about Klausner’s incompetence in a romance forum immediately heard howls of dissent. “She’s wonderful, what’s wrong with you?!” It didn’t take long for things to get personal. “You’re just jealous of her success!” is a frequent battle cry. Sorry, I’m not jealous of her success–I’m disgusted with it. Klausner is proof that it’s not talent, but literary diarrhea, that succeeds (a la Robert Jordan).

I must admit, I’ve never seen anybody defending Harriet Klausner since I’ve been online, and I can’t think of any romance forum which would defend her so fastidiously. The woman is a crock, and I should think that most romance readers know this by now. The intelligent ones anyway.

This was the most interesting point that she had to make:

At the risk of sounding sexist, I believe it has everything to do with the way most women interact in large groups, on the surface. They’re nice. They’re polite. They don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. They don’t like ugliness and conflict. They want to give the impression of being hospitable and inclusive. We were all taught that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, at least not in front of a group. And this is where the dark side of women comes into play

You don’t say nasty things about a sister to the group…you do that one on one, A tells B who tells C who tells D, and so on. If you do say it publicly, boy, does that “don’t say anything if you can’t say anything nice” get abandoned faster than a politician’s campaign promises.

Even though, she’s obviously dissing the romance genre (yes she is) I gotta say, I agree with most of the above points. Although, I must also point out that, she’s obviously never been to an AAR message board. Those ladies are happy to rip you apart if they think your book stinks, best selling author or no. (g)

Apparently Stephanie Bond got ripped to bits by readers when she included a phone sex scene in her book, Too Hot To Sleep. Is that true? Did readers really go crazy over a little dirty talk on the phone? Surely not?

Anyway, the blogger continues:

The Bond controversy raises another interesting point: The average romance reviewer is leery, if not downright frightened, of brave new ideas, such as phone sex. A writer who is TOO daring, TOO original, is cause for alarm, not celebration. Reviewers are also hypocritical. It’s okay for Catherine Coulter to write book after book with a marital rape plot device; it’s okay for Susan Johnson to have a hero use knitting needles as a sex toy on the heroine. But phone sex? Oh my goodness gracious, cover the children’s eyes!

The average romance reviewer is leery, if not downright frightened, of brave new ideas, such as phone sex? Hmmm I’m not sure if that statement is quite right. You’d think she’d know that the average reader is no longer all about keeping the bedroom door shut, and that phone sex is down right virtuous in comparison with some of the freaky shit that goes on in books these days.

She concludes:

The Romance industry craves respect. Unfortunately, they paint themselves into a corner by not realizing that what will get that respect is looking at their books and authors honestly AND objectively. I won’t even go into the near-incestuous relationships that reviewers have with authors in romance, rather than the invisible wall that needs to separate them. As it is, without honest feedback, romance cannot aspire to more, in a literary sense. The books will never become good enough to win over opponents. Until these problems are resolved, too many readers look at romance and find it lacking.

I know I like to have a pop at romance authors for sport, but it kinda grates on my nerves when other people do it. I’m ornery like that

As for winning over opponents, authors shouldn’t really care about what people from outside the genre think, but I think we all know by now that actually, they do care. A lot. Some have even gone to the length of distancing themselves from the genre that made them famous in the first place.


Oh, by the way, the bit where the blogger talks about incestuous relationships within the romance genre, sounds remarkably like something I once posted on the AAR group list when I was feeling particularly feisty

Just sayin

Right, enough pontificating, I’m off to bed. Night all.