Friday, September 07, 2007

Embarrased by Romance... What?

Over at SF Novelists, there's a really interesting blog by Jackie Kessler about what happens when you discover that cool novel everyone is talking about is shelved in the (*gasp*) romance section called You Shelved it... Where?

I wrote a comment (actually my alter ego did) amounting to the fact that I understand why someone might have felt embarrassed to go into the romance section years ago, but I don't get it any more. I was just at my hometown B&N last weekend standing in the romance section looking at books. There was a surprising amount of erotica with some fairly racy covers, but they're not the kinds of covers that used to make me cringe -- you know the ones with, well, Fabio looking down some babe's cleavage. Now there's a lot more photographic covers (some that still make me blush, but in a TOTALLY different way, see the cover for VAMPIRE QUEEN'S SERVANT I posted here... yowch! HOT!!!) and the cartoonish, stylized ones like the ones I've got.

Plus, I think that a lot of what she's talking about comes from the fact that people like to have someone to look down on, and for a lot of my SF/F friends, that's romance. It's peer pressure based on misinformation. Romance gets the big dis because people still think writers are writing to a formula and that all the heroines are wall-flowers in pink sundresses waiting for a man to make it all right. Anyone whose read romance in the last decade knows better than that.

Romance is where some of the best writing is happening right now. I say, go to that section with pride, sister!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

At Dragoncon, there was a panel on, basically, why do people look down on SF? And then one of the panelists started dissing on Romance. My boyfriend corrected them (he beat me and the other member of our writer's group to it), pointing out that they were doing the exact same thing they were complaining about in the panel, but they continued to be oblivious. He even pointed out that everything they said was wrong with Romance was what other people said was wrong with SF. Argh!

Of course, this is how prejudice and oppression work sometimes. You're allowed to fight sideways or down, but not up. The answer isn't to put the jackboot on someone else's neck, guys; it's to band together and kick the jackboot wearer in the crotch.

--Katherine

Melanie A. Howard said...

Hear hear!

Actually, I wish someone would wander into the university so-called "fiction" classes and wander over them with jackboots. I think it rolls downhill from there. They determine what is "canon" worthy and everything else (eg: the plebian genre fiction) gets crapped on. Regularly. I have this feeling genre needs to diss other genre because we are somehow all academically unworthy. Or, to use a fun and friendly feminist term: Internalized Oppression.

-Mel

Anonymous said...

"Language is a most beautiful gift when used well." The trouble starts when we don't take the time to explore just what it is we're really trying to say, and even less time to choose the appropriate words. Work from all genres suffer this fate.

Duran

CV Rick said...

I'm sure you know that I read everything . . . all genres . . . including romance, albeit in very small doses. The one thing that I really can't get over in the romance genre is that mind-splitting P.O.V. movement.

I've noticed it in Nora Roberts (and J.D. Robb), Nalini Singh, Karen Rose, and MaryJanice Davidson. The He felt, she thought, he knew, she saw, he considered . . . blah blah blah.

Yeah, there's some good writing in the genre - like yourself and Ian McEwan - and as a man I don't mind browsing the section to see what's up, but until they stop both the P.O.V. shifts in writing and the horrible historical (and technological) research flaws, I just can't say that the genre is up to standards I prefer.