Links: Tuesday, December 31st

December 31, 2013 Links 9

A white man and an Asian man, both wearing ugly Christmas sweaters and aviator style eyeglasses, pose against a backdrop of lasers, like the old school photo trend in the 80s, with an inset of a cat.This image is why I love imgur.

  • Romance and the Defensive Crouch – I’m not well versed in literary theory, and I haven’t read the book being reviewed, but I found this piece thought provoking. I will admit to an exasperated sigh at “You know what romance needs? Books without happy endings. Then it can be literature.”

    I’m not saying all romances are evil crap. I don’t think all romances are evil crap. But many romances are crap, and it seems like you need to acknowledge that somewhere if you’re going to make the case that some romances are good. And one important way to start thinking about romances as various is, I think, to chuck the formula. Yes, many romances can be made to fit into Regis’ pattern. But then, many can’t. Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina and Gone With the Wind are books that are very often discussed as romance novels, and which don’t fit Regis’ pattern in important respects.Regis talks about Gone With the Wind specifically, saying that readers who identify it as a romance are “misreading”; that they’re substituting in a happy ending based on their familiarity with the genre. In other words, Regis suggests that romance readers are so wedded to their narratives that their basic reading comprehension suffers. This is supposed to be a defense of romance fans how, exactly?

  • Funny Feminist (?) Fiction – Liz posts one of her trademark thinky posts, musing about feminist readings of a romance novel and a literary novel with a romance in it.

    Sure, one’s a novella from Harlequin’s partnership with Cosmopolitan and the other is a literary novel frequently described as “feminist,” but they’re both funny and both celebrate love and female sexual pleasure. And both, especially together, made me think (again) about the whole question of “feminist” fiction: is there such a thing? what does it mean to call a novel feminist? I find it more useful to think about feminist reading(s)–by which I don’t mean judging whether a novel is “politically correct” (ugh) or “feminist enough,” but reading through feminist lenses and asking certain kinds of questions–than about feminist fiction. Because my response to “Are these books feminist?” would be, “It’s complicated.”

  • A list of problems with Ani DiFranco’s statement on slave plantation retreat – If you read just one post about Ani DiFranco’s epic cockup, make it this one. Emi Koyama completely dismantles DiFranco’s non-pology in a post that should serve as a guide for How Not To Respond To Criticism. Contains lots of links as well.

    It was painful to me to witness how Ani somehow failed to recognize the offensiveness of holding the retreat at Nottoway Plantation, or to anticipate how people would react to the announcement, but I held on to the hope that, once confronted, she would immediately understand and acknowledge her mistake. Unfortunately, the statement she released in response to the criticism fell short of what I expected from someone who was so important to me at one point in my life.

    Below is a list of problems (which is not to say that it is exhaustive) I find with the statement.

  • A Note From Ani DiFranco – If you read two articles about DiFranco, read this sarcastic jab from Mallory Ortberg.

    Hi. I’m Ani DiFranco. You may remember me from such things as singing like a wizard trapped inside an aged toad is trapped inside of my throat and being allergic to capital letters. I’m here to talk to you about something that’s very close to my heart today: writing songs on old slavery plantations.

  • (If you read three articles, read about the white woman who posed as a black woman named LaQueeta Jones to defend DiFranco from criticism about racism. It gets all the face palm.)
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Ridley

An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.

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9 Responses to “Links: Tuesday, December 31st”

  1. Cherri Porter

    Re: link one.

    I don’t think to be literature something needs an unhappy ending. And I don’t think to be romance it needs a happy ending. (Though my genre lines have always been blurry things.) One of my issues with romance in general is that I don’t enjoy the “perfect” ending, the sit-com ending, the grand gesture, the surprise, etc. Some of my favorite literary fiction has had romance, but those romances haven’t necessarily ended in a couple walking off into a brilliant future. And I still loved them and swooned and all those things a good romance makes me feel these books make me feel.

    In my experience, real people have conversations and decide to be together, to make a go of it. It’s rare that I see in the world one person making a huge grand gesture or surprising the other with moving across country or something other “big” thing. Relationships happen over time, with consideration. I could use more of that in romance genre. A little more, ok let’s figure it out, and a lot less proposal & walk into the sunset.

  2. Ridley

    @Cherri Porter: I feel very strongly that a happy ending is a requirement of romance. What I’d like to see more of, however, is a wider diversity of optimistic outcomes. “Married, with a baby on the way” is too narrow, but allowing for the couple breaking up or one or both dying tragically is too wide.

  3. Liz Mc2

    @Cherri Porter: “One of my issues with romance in general is that I don’t enjoy the ‘perfect’ ending, the sit-com ending, the grand gesture, the surprise, etc.”

    I wish romance fiction relied less on this stuff. I don’t think it’s necessary for a “happy ending.” I’m surprised how many people write emotionally and psychologically astute love stories and then get all trope-tastic at the end.

  4. Meoskop

    What Y’all said. Increasingly I have issues with the final pages of a romance. I don’t want an unhappy or doubtful ending, but as someone who was fine with KISA ending, I am okay with not crossing all the t’s. Brenda Joyce’s Cahill series worked fine with successive HFN endings. I think there is room for more flexibility in what HEA looks like.