May Open Thread

May 1, 2014 Open Thread 7

Happy first of the month!

Read a book with a marginalized character you want to recommend? Run across a terrible portrayal you want to warn others to avoid? Just want to rant about the general state of the genre? Stressed out about Habs vs. Bruins in the playoffs? (I KNOW I AM.)

Let ‘er rip in the comments. Nothing is off topic, but no promo, please.

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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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7 Responses to “May Open Thread”

  1. Merrian

    I just spotted an intriguing review for a non-fiction book about how Victorian asylums were used to hide and rip off inconvenient people. I was instantly reminded of ‘Flowers From The Storm’ as I read the review and of course Wilkie Collins ‘Woman in White’.

    Sarah Wise’s book ‘Inconvenient People – Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-doctors in Victorian England’ has been short listed for the Wellcome Prize.

    I’ve been able to buy this on Kobo and it is of course available via Amazon

  2. Evangeline

    Can I talk about #WeNeedDiverseBooks?

    I’m still parsing through my reaction it it becoming the latest in a long line of “hashtag activism,” but the first thing that comes to mind is meh. I say meh because every “diversity in books” conversation erases the diverse authors & books (and industry professionals) who already exist, trots out the same old names/books, and ultimately makes the entire thing self-congratulatory. Never mind how the mainstream media hops onto it for the sake of page hits and ad clicks.

    To focus on the romance genre, the institution of Romance is set up to marginalize minorities. Not simply because of separate imprints or white-washed covers, but the average interpersonal relationships between authors, between authors and agents, between authors and editors, and between authors and readers. Every major romance organization, magazine, website, blog, et al was formed to advocate or promote or chat about mainstream romance novels. The conversations and relationships built on those foundations over the past 40 years have only increased the marginalization.

    When I look at submission guidelines or look up an agent or editor to see what type of stories they like, they aren’t gushing over Beverly Jenkins or Ann Christopher or the late L.A. Banks. When mega best-selling authors are on social media talking up their latest reads (or the latest releases from their friends), I don’t ever see one AOC in the bunch. We have two major conventions this month–Romance Slam Jam and RT–which focus on reading and writing romance novels. I’ll go out on a limb and say the average Romlander is unfamiliar or vaguely familiar with RSJ, which has been in existence since 1995! A glimpse at Romantic Times’s schedule reveals that overall, POC/AOC are stuck on panels about MC romance. RWA’s schedule is no different than RT’s.

    We Don’t Need Diverse books–they already exist. We need to dismantle the institutions that block existing AOC from succeeding on equal footing.

  3. Ridley

    @Evangeline: I don’t think you’re alone in your feelings there. I feel like I know a lot of people who just *love* the idea of diversity yet continue to keep reading white-authored books exclusively. I worry that it’s become trendy to attach yourself to the cause without changing your behavior at all.

  4. Liz Mc2

    I was thinking that I seldom have something to contribute to your open threads and that means that I’m not following up on my plan to read more diverse romances, so Evangeline and Ridley’s comments really apply to me.

    Of course, I am also reading not much romance, period. I DID listen to Douglas Blackmon’s SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME last month, and it was a really great, eye-opening account of the forced labour of African-Americans in the decades after the Civil War that essentially amounted to re-enslavement, and was one of the many ways white Americans prevented African Americans from achieving true freedom and equal citizenship. But books by white men about dark chapters of American history, however valuable, are not the only way I want to read about people of color (although I’m glad I know so much more about this period than I did before).

    The next two books in my library stash (a mystery and a “literary” novel) are by and about POC, at least, but I’m going to make it my goal to have at least one romance novel to talk about for your next thread. Because I certainly have good intentions and plenty in my TBR, but I’m not following through.

  5. Nu

    Just got my second issue of Ms. Marvel. Exciting! :D I think most have heard of it, but for those who don’t know this is the first line featuring a Muslim superhero from one of the two superhero comic giants, Marvel. She’s a young Pakistani-Brit. It’s really well done. G Willow Wilson is brilliant.

    I am also reading Jade Temptress! So far, it’s a bit slower than the first, but I am still liking it.

  6. Roslyn Holcomb

    What Evangeline said. It’s the same old self-congratulatory nonsense. White saviors ad nauseum. The books already fucking exist.The books already fucking exist.The books already fucking exist. We don’t need more diverse books, we need readers who are willing to read authors that don’t look like them. And the band plays on.

  7. cleo

    I recently finished and really enjoyed Nina Perez’s Sharing Space serial.

    I’m currently re-reading A Soldier’s Heart by Kathleen Korbel (Eileen Dreyer). It’s the first book (romance or otherwise) I ever read with MCs with PTSD and 20 years and a lot of PTSD romances later, it’s still one of the better portrayals imo. Ymmv, of course, but for me (as someone with ptsd) it still rings true emotionally.

    (I’m getting a bit impatient with other parts of the story that I don’t remember being impatient with the first two times I read it. I can’t tell if it’s the story or me just wearing my cranky pants right now.)