- MUCH ADO ABOUT NICENESS – A smart take on the value of negative criticism. Interesting to see it’s being debated outside genre fandoms.
Some might argue that there’s no particular reason that the establishment of a positive place shouldn’t be a perfectly viable goal for a books site. But I find the very idea that one should “respect” the authors of books by publishing only positive reviews to be absurd. I think that, rather, the exact opposite must be true: real respect means having balls enough to publish the unvarnished results of a close reading. No adult author writes for praise alone. Surely any serious writer writes because he has an urgent message to impart, one that he hopes will be of some use to the reader. I don’t know the origin of the idea that writers are such delicate creatures, barely able to withstand public scrutiny of their genius, but it seems ever-present.
- I want to address the label the NY Times gave to white rapper Macklemore – As you all know, my diet consists almost entirely of Macklemore hate. It does a body good. The NYT article is here.
“the first contextually post-black pop-star rapper.”
What does the NY Times mean by post-black? Well, the history of popular music in the US follows a strict and undisputed pattern. That is, a genre is created within black culture, then adopted by white record labels that exploit black artists until a nice white body comes along, complete with superficial representation of all the things that seemed scary when complimented by black skin.
- Challenge a Romance Doubter – My husband’s a good sport and has asked for a few romance recommendations over the years. In contrast to this post, Flowers From the Storm did not work for my programmer husband at all. He couldn’t tell where or when it was set or what was going on and he hated everyone in it. A Madeline Hunter medieval was a success, although he found some silly sex writing, because of course he did. He’s found a bunch of the stuff I’ve posted on The Twatspert. It’s his superpower.
Several months ago, somewhat to my surprise, one of my neighbors, an MIT grad working as a computer programmer, asked to read my current work in progress. After reading the chapters I sent him, he told me his reactions, but admitted that his unfamiliarity with romance fiction made it difficult for him to judge what I’d written. He asked if I could recommend an exemplar of the genre, so he could have a point of reference, and so critique my work more constructively.
I ran upstairs to my office, and plucked two historical romances off my shelf, one a classic, one a more recent favorite: Laura Kinsale’s 1992 Flowers from the Storm and Cecilia Grant’s 2013 A Woman Entangled. Though he seemed a bit embarrassed by the cover of Grant’s novel, he thanked me politely and took both home.
- I wanted to like it, but I didn’t. – The Vacuous Minx is back! Naturally I have to link to this post, because QFT. Hate reading is tiring for me, believe it or not. When I lay into a book, the emotion you’re seeing isn’t hate, really. It’s disappointment.
So when I choose a book for review, I open it hoping to like it. When that doesn’t happen, I’m not just disappointed, I’m bummed. Because I want lots of books to be good. We get enough crap in romland about quality from outsiders. I want to be able to shove great quality stories in the faces of these critics over and over again, not because it is going to change their minds, but because it feels good. This is especially true on subjects I care about. It’s probably not obvious (to put it mildly), but I want as many books as possible on underrepresented people, places, and topics. But … while I’ll give any author who attempts one a cookie for taking it on, I’ll still evaluate the book on its own terms. Sometimes I get a good one, more often a flawed but promising one, and other times one that misses the mark. So it goes.
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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.