Friday, April 20, 2012

Inferiority Complexes, Romance Novels, and Critics

First and foremost:

Woopsies.... Yeah. Sorry about that, folks. Got swamped suddenly.

So let me apologize right quick!

Moving on to the main event:

There's been a lot of discussion, lately, about reading romance novels. The words "ashamed" and "embarrassed" have been bandied about quite a bit.

So I felt it was time to speak up, both as a reader, myself, and as an aspiring author.

Please allow me to dissuade you, my dear reader, from any particular disillusionment to the contrary: I am not ashamed that I read romance.

Read that as: "I am not ashamed that I read a book that has graphic sex scenes and whose sole purpose is a relationship of some sort."

Pundits of the "You read WHA'?" camp can be generally (albeit somewhat vaguely) separated into two camps:

The "Shamed" camp


The "Inferior" camp

The first camp is comprised of those who feel that we, as romance readers, should feel ashamed that we like a little "happy happy fun time" interspersed with our literary pursuits. My response?

"Do ya'll watch TV? At all? Then, yah, go throw stones at your own glass house, buddy."

As long as the reader is not forcing individuals in the vicinity to experience the book, as well, then no harm is done. There is no shame in enjoyment and we keep it to ourselves. So readers? Don't be ashamed; you're healthy, you're fine, you're normal. 

The second camp is comprised of those who feel that we, as romance readers (and authors, I might add), are subscribers to an "inferior" form of writing. This is both silly and slightly misogynistic.

I've heard tell (but shall not point fingers) that Romance novels are "inferior" because they lack depth; their focus is simple and the plotlines predictable. These are generally the same people who consider Romance a sort of "Walmart" competing for attention against the erudite elite.

"Captain America"
In some ways, this is true. It's true in the same sense that an action movie is predictable. These movies aren't "inferior", they are what they are. And what they are is a journey for the viewer. Romance novels serve the same purpose with a different appeal.

Many Romance novels traverse the complex tapestry of inter-personal relationships while gently guiding the reader along with the primary plot line.

Other Romance novels simply put a smile (or a tear) on your face. Or other things. *wink*

Some of them are simple, some of them are not.
Some are philosophical, some are belletristic. To label them "inferior", however, indicates a particular misunderstanding of writing, itself.

This, as much as any form of writing, is an expression. Its intention is born from the heart of its author, and its purpose is owned by the individual pursuits and needs of its readers.

I read romance. I read all kinds of romance with all kinds of heat levels. I don't shout it to the rooftops and I don't foist it in the face of others. But I'm not ashamed of what I enjoy.

I don't need to list my academic treatises and my library of mathematical and scientific journals, in order to feel "acceptable" within the literary world. No, I read because reading is a wonderful, beautiful thing. What I read depends on what I need.

So now that I've expounded on the "validity" of Romance as an equal genre amidst the "Ton" of the Literate, let me state:

Before you offer more inane rhetoric, try a few. I think you'll find one you like. ;)

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I would love to hear what you have to think! Please remember your manners and I'll try to do the same. ;)