Essays by a third-rate novelist looking into genre writing, politics, transportation, polling, a certain beauty contest, racial concord, literature and anything else that strikes his fancy. New content as of November 2012--including, I'm sorry to say, another poem, an essay slamming Tolkien while blatantly displaying my literacy, a cartoon series in prose, a travelogue and a literary critique.
That's right. Even though I claim to be a writer, I hate romance novels.
I don't hate them because they are girly and mushy, though they usually are. Nor because they tend to be formulaic, though they certainly do. Nor because they're the most popular genre, crowding out better and more profound fiction.
No, I hate them for far better and more specific reasons.
I hate them because the heroine is always beautiful, sexy, and pneumatic.
I hate them because the hero is always well-muscled, handsome, and cuts a wide swath in the female population.
I hate them because there's always some weird contrived reason for hero and heroine to meet. And when they meet, in ninety-nine percent of the stories the hero doesn't like the heroine for some reason—usually due to a misunderstanding—though he can't help but admit to himself that she's really beautiful and really sexy and/or really accomplished... but he still doesn't like her.
The heroine, on the other hand, after the fateful encounter brought about by her sudden poverty or by her inheriting a run-down property or getting lost on the moors or having a slight problem with a runaway horse... or by her coming across his lost/strayed/stolen little boy/girl/beloved pet with whom she happens to get on just stunningly... or maybe after needing to be rescued from drowning or being sold at a slave market or having been forced to work in a house of ill repute or having her chutes fail to open while skydiving can't help but be impressed by his manly chest or his rock-hard jaw or his piercing gaze or his tight butt and his big fortune.
Yes, his fortune, for a wealthy hero is almost always a requirement in romance novels.
But she still doesn't like him.
I hate it that the heroine is always feisty or independent or at least spunky, while the hero is domineering, insensitive, in need of taming, or anti-social due to the lack of love from a good woman. Many's the rapacious pirate, evil robber baron, sweaty cowpoke, bare-arsed highlander, ferocious savage or cold-blooded assassin who has had his better nature brought out by a sweet but uncompromising woman... way too many.
And if by some authorial quirk the hero is sensitive, I tend to hate the story even more.
I hate the fact that the heroine often has some weird name that regular girls don't have, although it must be admitted that girls' names are getting more strange by the year. Consider sixth grade in a small school near me where three girls are named Taylor and four Courtney, plus Kerra, Kira, Keira, and Cara—not to mention Elise, Elissa and Isla. Whatever happened to Mary, Joan, Susan? Or even Harriet, Ethyl, Agnes?
I hate heroes named Drake, Duke, Dai, Damian, Jared, Jaan, Judd, Adrian, Abel and Alpo. Heroes! These are the names of kids we would have been picked on in school. (Oh, and I also hate Dougal and Fergus.)