- Gorgeous and Gritty: The Appeal of Gritty Romance in Skye Warren’s Wanderlust – This post by Cara McKenna is why I hate the term “gritty romance.” This book sounds like a fucking ode to rape culture. If that’s “gritty romance,” what am I supposed to think when I see romance with working class characters just living their lives called “gritty?” Is being working class on a level with kidnapping, drugging and raping people? An can we stop calling textbook dark erotica “romance?”
The twenty-year-old heroine, Evie, is sheltered by her overbearing, abusive, mentally ill mother. Evie dreams of escaping on a road trip to visit Niagara Falls, a place she’s been infatuated with for years. She saves up and formulates a rickety plan, and she goes. But her very first night, she meets the villain. I mean hero. I mean… Jesus, I have no idea. The villain/hero is a thirty-ish drifter and part-time long-haul trucker. Hunter. Don’t let the name fool you—he’s not a typical romance hero, not aside from being handsome and hung and pushy. Make that really pushy. Make that an ex-con, imprisoned for aggravated rape. And he rapes the heroine. Not dub-con at first—straight-up non-con. He rapes her repeatedly, and takes pleasure from her fear. (I found the initial sexual encounters far more frightening than arousing, which I suspect is the reaction Warren intended; this didn’t feel like rape-as-titillation.) Then he drugs her, and kidnaps her, rapes her some more, drugs her again… Like I said, he’s the villain. Yet he’s the hero. And somehow, the story really worked for me. And it totally shouldn’t have. This book is black magic.
- The First of These Is Love – Jackie Barbosa, whose son Julian was killed lat month, talks about tragedy and grief and why love is what’s keeping her together.
I remember a brief Twitter conversation a week or so ago where someone (sorry, I can’t remember who; I’m totally suffering from CRS1 disease these days) asked why so many people dismiss the romance genre as “bad.” I poked my head in to say that I think this prejudice goes all the way back to ancient times, when tragedy (stories that ended badly) was considered a higher art form than comedy (those that ended well/happily). The Greeks certainly believed that tragedy revealed more about the human condition than comedy and valued their poets accordingly.
Well, let me just say this: I am now intimately, irrevocably acquainted with tragedy. I know its landscape and its colors as well as any human being. And what has it revealed to me about the human condition? That love–in all its forms –is the only thing that matters. And more, that the most important choice we make in our lives is the person we choose to marry. Because that person is the one we’ll turn to in times of tragedy. The one who will be our primary source of support and sustenance.
- The Anti-Nerd: Fear of a Black Time Traveler – Rafael Martinez posts on Black Girl Nerds about how time traveler characters are invariably white men and why writers are resistant to sending anyone else into the past.
I asked myself, “Then who gets to time travel?”
Well, white males!
It makes total sense too. There is never a time in which it is bad to be a white male. I theorize they didn’t have overall bad time periods, just really difficult ones. Anytime in history is pretty good for them. This is something that has been reinforced too. Most period pieces (even regarding Egyptian history), the white male is expected and accepted. His travels through time are always fine. White people get to go on wacky adventures through time. We can’t! Because in most cases we’ll end up in a time period we clearly are not safe in. This is basically why Doctor Who will always be white. He isn’t burdened by years of pain and true conflict. He gets to be witty and refer to evil, prejudice people by funny names.
- Women in SF&F Month: Ginn Hale – Ginn Hale talks about the assumptions people make based on an author’s gender and “you write like a man” as a compliment.
Over the years I’ve received a number of fan letters that, while well-intentioned and very kind, always give me pause—especially when they exclaim something along the lines of “you write like a man.”
Obviously, the comments are intended as compliments and I take them as such. (I’d be the last to complain about a reader taking the time to contact me. It’s always flattering and inspiring.)
But those comments did get me wondering—is writing itself really gendered? Or is it that certain subject matter seems more male or female? For that matter, does awareness of an author’s gender affect a publisher or reader’s perception of the book’s authenticity? And why—despite the vast number of top-selling and award-winning female authors in the world—should “writing like a man” be considered commendable? If it is, then by extension does that mean that authors who “write like women” have somehow failed…even if they are women?
- N is for Zora Neale Hurston – Olivia Waite talks Zora Neale Hurston and questions whether it makes sense to leave her off the romance canon that includes authors like Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer.
Black/white, literary/commercial, male/female – Their Eyes Were Watching God always seems to end up on the wrong side of history’s divides, though nowadays it’s closer to popular literature than it once was. This unlikely resurrection is both heartening and tantalizing: I dream of an alternate history where the novel was hugely influential on the romance genre. There are plenty of connection points ready and waiting: the focus on Janie’s personal journey toward happiness and the enduring value of love, the secondary characters drawn in economically brief but vivid and memorable ways, the small-town feel of both Eatonville and the ‘Glades, the melodrama of the trial scene.Romance is an omnivorous genre and the past few years have seen erotic retellings of Much Ado About Nothing and Regency reboots of The Brady Bunch, as well as creation of entirely new subgenres like New Adult and a groundswell of interest in sci-fi romance and the 1920s as a setting for historicals. Why shouldn’t authors turn to Hurston for inspiration as they turn to Austen and Brontë? But the race line in romance seems incredibly starkly drawn: there is mainstream (read: white) romance, and there is AA romance, and the two strains rarely meet.
- The US is an oligarchy, study concludes – Hahaha! We’re so fucked.
Researchers concluded that US government policies rarely align with the the preferences of the majority of Americans, but do favour special interests and lobbying organisations: “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.”
The positions of powerful interest groups are “not substantially correlated with the preferences of average citizens”, but the politics of average Americans and affluent Americans sometimes does overlap. This is merely a coincidence, the report says, with the the interests of the average American being served almost exclusively when it also serves those of the richest 10 per cent.
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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.