Thursday, May 7, 2009

"Most Maligned of Literary Texts"

This is America. I respect the opinions and the rights of readers who won’t touch romance with a ten foot pole. For them, the happily ever after ending is just too predictable, the hero too chiseled and perfect and the heroine just too damn beautiful and flawless to be believed. Because I have my own no-fly list, I understand their position. Some stories are not for me. I’m not paying good (or bad) money to be depressed or disgusted. That’s what cable news is for.

Notice I said stories and not genres. However, I still give credit to those readers who have tackled romance and decide it’s just not for them. The people who give me pause are those who have never read a romance novel but speak with authority on the simplistic story lines and alleged “purple prose”. How the heck do they know the color of the prose (excuse my sarcasm) if they’ve never cracked open the book? And then there are the snobs who’ve decided that romance writers suffer from limited intelligence, as if we need flashcards to remember our own names.

To my many reader friends, I do understand. Romance, like many other genres, is not for everyone. But to the misinformed, I offer a quote from Joanne Rendell, an attendee at Princeton’s symposium on romance fiction. “ the Princeton conference continued, I realized that it was too hasty to rush to this conclusion. Romances are not one kind of thing. Neither are their readers. And to draw fast conclusions about the genre and its audience is to perpetuate the kind of stereotyping which has always made romance the "most maligned of literary texts." The entire article (which includes our own Beverly Jenkins) can be found in the May 3 edition of the Huffington Post. And to my fellow authors, I paraphrase a favorite phrase from the 60's: "write on, write on!"


Yasmin said...

Write On, Write On...YGG...Do you...hmmm and all genres have their good, ugly and bad.

Dera Williams said...

Right on and write on! Love it. Great column. Sound wisdom.

Beverly said...

It seems like the Romance Conference was a wake-up call for some people in understanding the romannce story.

Sitting downwith a cuo of tea or a glass of red wine and some fine chocolate and a good romance book is the best cure to anything for me.

There are so many types of romance novels that there is something for everyone.

Jax Cassidy said...

I'm with you! Although, I've actually been slowing changing people's views on romance for the better. It's all about educating the public. I tell them a lot of romances are packaged as fiction and chances are, they've read a romance in their lifetime. If Dean Koontz and James Patterson can join the RWA, or are affiliated with us, then they need to see the big picture.

You're right, if people are talking smack about romance, they might want to pick one up and read it before ranting.

Niambi Brown Davis said...

Hey, Yas: You're right; I'll have to remember that good bad and ugly next time I get into a genre war (lol)

Niambi Brown Davis said...

Thanks, Dera: I enjoyed the Huffington Post column as well. The author did a great job outlining the diversity of romance.

'Cilla said...

Hey Sistah....
Loved the Hungtington Article and your perspective.

Like the saying goes "you can't judge a book by it's cover". Those that slam romance novels really need to give them a try... they are not what they used to be ... Lik Beverly, a galss of tea or wine, some chocolate chip cookies ... and I am good to go..


Niambi Brown Davis said...

Bev and 'Cilla: I agree; the Princeton conference was certainly a wake-up to many people who had previously put romance in a neat little box. And wine, chocolate and romance; that combination is truly "chicken soup" for the soul but so much better (lol)

Niambi Brown Davis said...

Jax: You make a very good point about Koontz and Patterson; thanks for pointing out that parallel; more ammunition for education :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your views on the romance genre. And you are right, people need to read before comdemining. I feel the same way about my vampire stories and in particular, my latest novel, The Seduction of Mr. Bradley. Each touch on romance in different voices as well as different circumstances.

I've read 4 different romance books and I can attest that all were different yet still within the genre.

Surely, life is a dance of romance and you simply cannot write a story without one or several romances. (I like the ones with several romances. Ha!)

People who love to write and read romance stories have a right to their choices.

And that's the way I see it.

Minnie Estelle

Anonymous said...

I forgot. Romance novels are not the most maligned of literary texts.

Look at the sales figures for romance books in The New York Times Book section each week. And go to the Today Show website and look up romance books in their archives. They did a 15 discussion on the subject of romance novels and how well they're doing in the book market.

The most maligned texts are probably erotia, alternative lifestyles, and vampire stories--although it appears that vampire stories are coming around the bend and headed to a winning position in the race.

So don't weep my baby-sisters, you're doing fine.