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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Writing Quote: The Romance Genre Gets No Respect in the Literary World

     Women read and write romance novels. That writing does not appear in serious literary publications, though, because serious publications do not publish in the genre. These publications might claim they exclude romance novels not because they are often by women or appeal to women, but because they're frivolous, poorly written crap. And some romances are crap. Fifty Shades of Grey is a terrible book, and I couldn't even manage three pages of the last Nora Roberts novel I tried. But there are plenty of mediocre books of all sorts, up to and including literary fiction. Is the self-conscious virtuosity of Jonathan Lethem's As She Crawled Across the Table, with its thunking ironies and predictable magical realist absurdities, really any less formulaic than romance fiction? Certainly the book's exploration of love and creation seems clumsy compared to Judith Ivory's Regency romance, Black Silk

     I'm sure there are many people--and indeed many women--who prefer Lethem to Ivory. The point isn't that all people everywhere should like what I like. The point is that certain authors and certain perspectives are excluded before a literary conversation can even begin.

     The typical excuse for that exclusion is genre, not gender. But those two words have a common root, and are intertwined in many ways. Romance is seen as unserious and frivolous because women are seen as unserious and frivolous, and romance is written largely by women, for women, about concerns traditionally seen as feminine….

Noah Berlatsky, salon.com, February 25, 2014 

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