Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Moment about Fiction

I just took a survey about the npr book page.  Sure enough, when I finished the survey, they put up a list of books I might want to read.  I think there was a category about dog-grooming, but certainly no romance.

I know it's a dead horse.

I know it's a dead horse that's been beat to death.

I just want to know why romance is a genre so maligned?  Jane Eyre and Sense and Sensibility? Both romances.  The Thornbirds and Gone with the Wind?  Uh, romance.  Moreover, if you've been reading romances since the late 80s, you've seen the quality and intelligence of the books increase dramatically.  I can't speak to some of the categories from the 60s and 70s because I didn't read them, but I think women's fiction, in general, has increased in quality. 

To include science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and thriller, but to dismiss romance is a slap in the face.  Wake up, npr.  Smart people read romances, too.  All too often, "literature" includes an unhappy ending just for the sake of having an unhappy ending.  Just because I like to read books about relationships that end happily does not make me a simpleton.

Besides, optimists live longer.


  1. Yes. I agree with you one hundred percent. I had trouble writing my thesis because I wasn't balancing the plot line enough. In other words, even though she literally leaves her country, loses her job, and has to go through the tragic rape/murder of her best friend, she falls in love and thus it is too much of an up ending. Dude. Literature ought to be allowed to end (relatively) happily. I don't like to be completely bummed out at the end of a book. In related news-- reading a double biography of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. There's romance for you!! With the added benefit that it actually happened so no one can pan it as "fluff." ADT

  2. I say you need to leave it in there, dear. Every now and then a great romance breaks through the canon wall. Think of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. A good portion of what Shakespeare wrote included happy endings, too.

    So, there, literary establishment!