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Old 08-07-17, 09:22 PM   #1
azteclady
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WaPo: stop dissing romance

Well, this is interesting and refreshing. An OpEd at the Washington Post talking about genre romance with respect--and it's written by a male author who doesn't, himself, write it.
What does a woman want?
If you’re in publishing, this is not an idle — or sexist — question. As Ian McEwan said more than 10 years ago, “When women stop reading, the novel will be dead.”
...
So why must this uniquely successful genre keep enduring slights and insults? After all, snobs dismiss all kinds of pop culture — from hip-hop to sitcoms — but romance novels elicit a special degree of fervent condescension. That denigration fits a larger historical pattern that regards any of the particular interests of women — from midwifery to knitting to “old wives’ tales” — as inferior to the particular interests of men. Are romance novels any more formulaic or unrealistic than the spy novels and thrillers that attract a male readership? Is there any reason — besides stale misogyny — to question the intelligence of romance authors and their fans?
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Old 08-07-17, 09:54 PM   #2
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Re: WaPo: stop dissing romance

Love this! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 08-08-17, 01:28 AM   #3
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Re: WaPo: stop dissing romance

One of the bits I liked best is when he mentions that, for the immense majority of people, relationships are a thing we deal with--much more often than, say, saving the world, or solving a murder case--so when critics go after the 'fantasy' aspect of genre romance (or the 'unrealistic expectations' of its readers), they are being pretty ridiculous.*



* no, this is not a direct quote, it's extrapolation. Still holds.
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Old 08-08-17, 03:24 AM   #4
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Re: WaPo: stop dissing romance

I've never been big into romance novels, but of those i've read, many have been as profound as any other fiction i've read. I can't say that i've read any of the so-called "Bodice-rippers" but i can say that it's not because of prejudice. I've read several romance novels that fit into a more classical sense of the term, most recently Mutiny On The Bounty, and i actually shed an unashamed tear when
Spoiler: Major Mutiny spoiler
the main character returned to Tahiti to find his wife and child and everyone he loved dead
.

Romance can also reach into other genres. Dennis L. McKiernan's Dragondoom may appear at first blush to be high fantasy, but at its heart and at its best, it's a romance novel, and one that stirs the heart more than any other high fantasy novel i've ever read.

I think that in the end genre-ism harms not only the closed minded individual, but literature in general and humanity as a whole. Art needs to be appreciated on its own level and in its own terms, and anybody who refuses to do so is performing a disservice to all.

*my thanks to my "RL" friend Derek for helping me find relatively succinct exposition on this subject.
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Old 08-08-17, 04:32 AM   #5
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Re: WaPo: stop dissing romance

This column is currently the most-read story in today's WaPo arts/style section.

I just started following the Twitter feed of a book blog called Book Riot. One of the first essays I clicked on was on the value of literature vs Literature, and the author analyzed romance fiction as part of it.

She talked about taking a break from a history of the Third Reich with a Harlem/music novel. "I was so happy to be back in a story."



http://bookriot.com/2017/08/07/lower-case-l-literature/
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Old 08-08-17, 11:25 AM   #6
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Re: WaPo: stop dissing romance

Quote:
Originally Posted by azteclady View Post
One of the bits I liked best is when he mentions that, for the immense majority of people, relationships are a thing we deal with--much more often than, say, saving the world, or solving a murder case--so when critics go after the 'fantasy' aspect of genre romance (or the 'unrealistic expectations' of its readers), they are being pretty ridiculous.*



* no, this is not a direct quote, it's extrapolation. Still holds.
This is a really strong point. Fantasy fiction is most often at its best when it couches real-life lessons inside pure escapism.
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