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#1026 - 05/15/01 03:30 PM Re: THE BIZ
Barbara Offline
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Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
::shudder:: I can't stand romance novels.

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#1027 - 05/15/01 04:35 PM Re: THE BIZ
Carolyn Offline
Member

Registered: 05/10/99
Posts: 22
Loc: St. Louis MO USA
Shall I start a new topic somewhere to deal with the Romance Novel?

I can't stand 'em either, but neither do I like country music. Except for Lyle Lovett and he's really not "country." And maybe some Garth Brooks. See where I'm going?

I hate Romance Novels, unless you count some Roberta Gellis, and, of course Eileen Dreyer under another name and... Well, I guess what I hate is BAD Romance Novels, just as I hate BAD sf and BAD mysteries. A well-written book is a well-written book.

I had a friend who refused to read Lois McMaster Bujold becuase he considered all her sf to be "Romance Novels in Space...."

Feel free to jump on me with all feet.

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#1028 - 05/15/01 07:49 PM Re: THE BIZ
Bob Offline
Member

Registered: 05/09/01
Posts: 52
Loc: New York, NY
Carolyn:
You don't read them, and now that I know Barbara did not write this, I won't read it. My limit for romance novels is met by DH Lawrence's masterful "Women in Love" and "The Rainbow". If you consider Thomas Hardy's work "Romance fiction", then I'd say it is a cut above the rest.

Someone must be fueling the fire. Romance novels sell. My brother in law is a former librarian from California. In his tiny town [at the time] he told me old women would drive in, park their trucks, return a large handful of romance novels, select a few dozen more and head for home.

Now men and women have different ideas on this subject to be sure, but there have to be a lot of women who need fantasy escape as much as men. Reality never may equal fantasy, or do you [any of you] think otherwise.

Sticking to the topic, it must be good business. Harlequin keeps pumping them out like penny candy and I guess it turns a profit. There is even a Romance cable TV channel now. Soap Opera 24/7 anyone?

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#1029 - 05/15/01 11:41 PM Re: THE BIZ
Anonymous
Unregistered


I'm pretty sure I have never read a romance novel, per se, but I have read some very romantic stories. One that always stuck with me was The Sorceror's Son, Phyllis Eisenstein. It's fantasy genre, however, not romance.

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#1030 - 05/16/01 06:06 AM Re: THE BIZ
Bob Offline
Member

Registered: 05/09/01
Posts: 52
Loc: New York, NY
Genre labels are a bit broad these days. I think a lot of classic fiction would be called Romance novels by today's standards. Are they? Is Thomas Hardy's Mayor of Casterbridge a romance novel? Is DH Lawrence's Women in Love?

In the days when they first published, their works... especially Lawrence's...were classified by some as pornography. Imagine that. The title "Lady Chatterly's Lover" still brings forth the image of being risque.

Times do change our perceptions, don't they?

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#1031 - 05/16/01 11:33 AM Re: THE BIZ
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
Did Hardy and Lawrence write romance novels? No. They would have shuddered at the thought. A book that shows people falling in love (or in lust) is not automatically romantic. Hardy's thing was naturalistic determinism, a belief in the inevitability of a harsh fate that drags people down. Nothing romantic about that. And Lawrence's Freudianism is the perfect romance-killer.

Traditional romantic fiction and the modern genre called The Romance Novel aren't the same thing; they're barely kissing cousins. Pamela, the early Gothic romances, Jane Eyre, Sir Walter Scott's works, The Prisoner of Zenda -- as varied as they are, they're all romantic novels. More recently, Tanith Lee's The Silver Metal Lover is an outstanding SF romantic novel. To some, Wuthering Heights is THE quintessential romantic novel (a view I will dispute until my dying day, but that's a different debate).

But the contemporary genre called "romance novel" has almost nothing in common with those books. The genre is strictly formulaic and its sole purpose is to show a woman winning the man of her dreams, and the woman's worth is implicitly measured by the kind of man she attracts (handsome and rich are good). The further implication is that if a woman does not attract a desirable mate, she's somehow a failure as a woman. That's why I have no use for modern romance novels.

Ed Gorman once told me that he'd set out to write at least one novel in every kind of genre fiction there is -- mystery, SF, western, horror, espionage, fantasy, etc. He was going great guns until he ran up against the romance novel, and that one stopped him cold. The guidelines provided by romance publishers were so rigid, so unbending as to what could or could not be included that Ed gave up before he even started.

The genre "romance novel" caters to women who still want to believe "someday my prince will come." It's a very specific niche in the publishing world aimed at a very specifically targeted readership. I do wish we had another term to distinguish this kind of shallow book from other romantic fiction.

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#1032 - 05/16/01 12:42 PM Re: THE BIZ
Mary Offline
Member

Registered: 10/05/00
Posts: 764
Loc: MN
Quote:
Originally posted by Barbara:
But the contemporary genre called "romance novel" has almost nothing in common with those books. The genre is strictly formulaic and its sole purpose is to show a woman winning the man of her dreams, and the woman's worth is implicitly measured by the kind of man she attracts (handsome and rich are good). The further implication is that if a woman does not attract a desirable mate, she's somehow a failure as a woman. That's why I have no use for modern romance novels.


And the heroes all look like Fabio.

I have significant problems with the implications (for women) implicit in the storylines of these things, for the reasons Barbara stated, but for some reason it doesn't bother me that people write them, if they can manage to follow the guidelines. If a writer uses the genre to supplement his/her income, cool.

What I do object to, aside from the feminist implications, is the idea that such formulaic, recipe-following books, are comparable to the writing you find in other genres. But then there are bad mystery novels too, if less predictable and formulaic and I guess what it comes down to is needing to judge each book on its merits.

But for me, romance novels just don't cut it on their merits.

(Edited to eliminate a stray apostrophe, since that's a sin I don't want to commit on THIS board. )

[This message has been edited by Mary (edited 05-16-2001).]

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#1033 - 05/16/01 02:06 PM Re: THE BIZ
Scribbler Offline


Registered: 02/25/00
Posts: 2451
Loc: Los Angeles, CA USA
One of the things that has always bugged me is the inclusion of something that is actually "out of genre"... for instance, Georgette Heyer's "romances" are more properly "period comedies of manners" in the tradition of Jane Austen.

But when the Gothic market dropped, many writers saw how well Heyer's books did, and hopped on the Regency bandwagon. Unfortunately, most of them modeled their books more on Barbara Cartland (very much the "goop romance" type) than on Heyer (because of course, writing like Heyer took more research and craft).

Then they ended up killing the "Regency romance" because there was so much trash.

(*sniff* I'm only wailing because I have notes/outlines/beginnings of several Regency romances sitting in my files.)

[This message has been edited by Scribbler (edited 05-16-2001).]

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#1034 - 05/16/01 04:42 PM Re: THE BIZ
Kay Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 17046
Loc: Roanoke, VA , USA
And there is a bit of overlap between "romance" novels (at least the original ones) and "gothic" novels.

But I think we all know what we are talking about here. We can throw names around like "Heyer" "Cartland" "DuMaurier" etc., but it's kind of like the Justice said about pornography: I can't define it, but I know it when I see it....and as someone above noted, it will probably have Fabio on the cover.
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#1035 - 05/16/01 06:39 PM Re: THE BIZ
Bob Offline
Member

Registered: 05/09/01
Posts: 52
Loc: New York, NY
It has been um... 31 years or so since I read "Women in Love", but I was deeply impressed by the passionate depths to which Lawrence detailed three relationships. Rupert and Hermione,Rupert and [I think the character's name was Ursula] and Gerald and Gudrun.

Lawrence's particularly theory was that successful relationships existed because a man and a woman are incomplete beings at best. They need the right combinations to be whole and thrive. Two of the above three relationships were horrid failures. Nothing at all romantic about them, but in the one true relationship Lawrence is able to demonstrate his philosophy. I found the book to be very romantic indeed. It would probably be more significant to me now that I am married and not single. It brings a different focus to such a writing.

I guess we just disagree. I found Hardy's writing to be very romantic, when there is a romance to begin with. No, certainly not the "Mayor of Casterbridge" where a man sells his wife. Yet, doesn't a writer describe that which is bad or wrong in such a fashion as to say what is considered right? No, his were not formulaic novels. I did not mean to imply that. I do think he is quite the romantic however, or perhaps it is my own desire to see him that way. Hmm. Am I the romantic??? Haha.



[This message has been edited by Bob (edited 05-16-2001).]

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