Links: Tuesday, September 10th

September 10, 2013 Links 2

A screenshot from tumblr. User "kawaiipeculier" says: "sometimes I feel sad then I remember isaac newtons hair". There's a painting of Newton from the 18th century with a full head of long brown hair that's curled and fluffed out like a lion's mane.  User "vriskanon" says: "he may have discovered gravity but that luxurious flowing man sure hasn't damn son"

History according to Tumblr.

  • Romance Debate part one – why Anachronist doesn’t like the genre – I do like romance, obviously, and I can’t really argue with these points.

    After writing several nasty reviews of romantic fiction (because nothing makes my inner demon more active than a bad romance) I asked myself the crucial question: ‘why?’ It is important to know your reasons behind your own pet peeves, right? Looking for an answer I found that delightful page and started reading the opinions posted by different chick lit writers – because who would be better suited to persuade me that I’ve been completely wrong than successful romance authors ? However the more I read the less I liked their arguments. […] Now let me present eight things I really cannot forgive the romantic fiction.

  • The One Thing White Writers Get Away With, But Authors of Color Don’t – I found this post was an interesting contrast to the hand-wringing you get from white writers when you suggest they write books with a diverse cast. I’m not sure what they’re afraid of.

    How many celebrated white writers have written characters who were not exactly like them? William Faulkner, Joseph Conrad, Mark Twain, Pearl S. Buck, Colum McCann, Yann Martel, and Arthur Golden immediately come to mind. In a society masquerading as post-racial, it is still only the white man who can speak authoritatively for every man. People of color, on the other hand, are expected to speak only for themselves.

  • Broader, Better Literary Conversations – Writer Roxane Gay looks at the numbers for the major literary review outlets. It looks grim for writers of color.

    These numbers suggest, quite plainly, that the people shaping the literary conversation are not reading diversely. If they are reading diversely, it’s a well-kept secret. Editors are not expanding their editorial missions. They are explicitly and directly responsible for the narrowness and whiteness of the literary conversation. They are responsible for the misguided notion that there simply aren’t that many writers of color or books written by writers of color. Of course people make that assumption. There’s no evidence to the contrary in most mainstream publications.

  • Full Disclosure – Liz nails a number of things that have been bothering me lately where author promo is concerned. It’s like authors sign away their interesting opinions when they sign a publishing contract and replace them with uncritical squee for their friends’ books. It’s boring.

    I mention disclosure because I think it’s necessary to the creation of a culture where authors can contribute usefully to the critical discussion. At this point, I ignore pretty much everything a romance author has to say in praise of specific romance novels (exceptions would be older books). That’s because I’m often unsure what the author’s connection to that book might be. Is it a random book she loved, or was it written by a friend? (And, you know, if it was written by a friend, did she really 5-star-love it!!!, or did she just feel she had to say so?).

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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.

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2 Responses to “Links: Tuesday, September 10th”

  1. Evangeline

    My first reaction is to go “But…!” in defense of romance, but then I realize I do agree somewhat with her sentiments (though, she’s confusing chick-lit with the romance genre [e.g. fluffy, purple covers]). However, it’s easy to take this view of the genre when you have not read widely and extensively and for pleasure–from category romances to bodice rippers, to gothic romances to traditional Regencies.

    I’d argue that a lot of the things poo-poo’d are when an author takes a short-cut that her readers/dedicated romance readers easily understand because they can fill in the blanks with their past reading experiences. And if it’s a favorite author, the reader can relax into the book without expecting any discomfort or unwelcome surprises–which is why debut novels tend to hew closely to what’s already out there: you have to gain a reader’s trust before you can take them into outer space.

    This concept of comfort does short-change the genre (as seen in yesterday’s post, where POC get secondary romances, or have a HEA off-screen because white protagonists are more “comfortable” for the writer and the reader), especially when publisher guidelines promote this. Yet, at times, this can be the romance genre’s greatest strength since there are always books that come along to shake everything up and rebuild and reconstruct within that comfort concept. As long as discerning writers and readers continue to approach the genre with affection and determination, that concept will hopefully be continuously challenged.

  2. willaful

    I think they’re afraid of what Foyt should have been afraid of — that they’ll unwittingly express their own racism and get called on it. Or more charitably, they’re afraid of getting it wrong, which is understandable.