Monday, February 20, 2006

Romance? I think not

Men and women? Definitely two different species. Let’s face it, men are from Mars (or wherever it is burping is considered funny), and women are from Venus (also called the land of the better sex :P). Am I being prejudiced? Sure. But honestly, there are just certain things that a specific gender excels in over the other.

I’m positive most everyone will agree that men are usually the ones who find it hard to deal with emotions. On the other hand, we, women, are of a more sentimental nature. We embrace our feelings, we express them, savor them—most often than not, let them rule our actions—and when needed, we learn to cope with them. With these particulars, isn’t logical to assume that a woman would be a better romance writer than a man? Apparently, this is not the case, since at the moment the book industry is swarming with male “romance” writers.

Take Nicholas Sparks as the best example. I discovered this “romance author” when I saw, to my unending embarrassment, that stupid movie based on one of his books starring Mandy Moore and that guy who pouts like Orly Bloom (don’t know why younger boys think this is really sexy *confused*). Later on, because of a friend’s recommendation, I even read one of his unbelievably over-rated novels, The Rescue. With its PG-13 sex scenes (it scarred me for life, I tell you! *sniff*) and plastic characters, it’s a wonder Mattel is not selling Sparks’ action dolls (batteries not included and each sold separately, of course). To add insult to injury, the depressing plot was dragged forward by ongoing brainless dialogue and “longing glances” in every other page. Honestly, authors, “yearning” martyrs are not romantic!

I’ve also tried reading Robert James Waller, and even Nicholas Evans. Sadly, their stories too I found boring and somehow devoid of real emotion. It’s as if these men can only feel sorrow and profound sadness, and therefore are the only things they can translate into print. Even in the “happy” parts of the story I could feel the expectant tension that no matter what, this would not end well.

It’s unfortunate that male writers feel the need to succumb to every cliché of what they believe women find romantic; and being honest here, the results are usually disastrous. Females in these novels act like men trapped inside Barbie dolls, presenting us with characters that are truly disturbing and incredibly unreal. Can you imagine Scarlett O’Hara having been penned by one of these men? She would have been a simpering idiot, with no more than two cents worth of grey matter. And of course, they would have found no other option but to have Rhett Butler run over by a buggy in the last pages. It appears, that what women really want is to have the men they love die. *snort*

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think these men are bad writers. They’re just NOT romance writers. Their idea of what constitutes beautiful and passionate love always includes main characters dying, people getting raped, others losing limbs, usually someone is send off to war and coming back blind—and these are just examples from the books I’ve read (lord knows what else has been printed out there). So, can you blame me for wondering what exactly is romantic about a dead heroine and a blind limbless hero?

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18 comment(s):

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

I agree with Harlot, but I have to defend The notebook, both the book and the movie are wonderful. It is a bittersweet story, but at least they grow old together with all their limbs intact lol

2/20/2006 10:14:00 AM  

Anonymous ALE said...

Harlot, you're hilarious! You're rigth on with this but I'm with VT on the Notebook. I loved that book (not so much the movie version, but hot lead actor definitely). The Wedding by his is good to, not traggic at all.
I was surprised when I saw NS was considered romance writer. I like some of his stuff but he is tragic.

2/20/2006 10:24:00 AM  

Blogger Malicious Strumpet said...

NS, RJW, NE are definitely NOT romance writers. But I still love their books. I'm a sucker for tragedy, though...and in this I am different from many romance readers.

I have to say - the thing about limbless or otherwise majorly handicapped characters is soooo true. It's not sexy, it's not romantic. In a romance novel, I want the people to be mostly physically flawless (I don't mind small imperfections, but no big ones).

Warning: I'm going to unload on a romance novelist now. Mary Balogh's Silent Melody, in which the heroine is deaf and mute. Really? Seriously? I spent so much time wondering how she came up with that lame plot development, and why she thought it was necessary (didn't add ANYTHING to the story), that I don't remember another single thing about the novel. Except this: it sucked.

It's the only Balogh I've ever read, I simply couldn't bring myself to pick up anything else by her. Since she is such a respected name in the romance world, my best friend read one of her books, too, so that we'd know Silent Melody wasn't just a fluke. She hated the MB book she read, as well.

Anyone want to explain to me why everyone worships her?

Okay, this has taken a different turn than I originally expected (and is much longer than I thought it would be), so I'll sign off now.

2/20/2006 10:55:00 AM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

Oh, I HATE balogh

Read her slightly series, and another one, about a short guy that was always shirtless (why couldn't he please put some clothes on?)

I really don't get the appeal. I felt like I was reading the exact same book, with the exact same character with different names and in different locations.

The last one wasn't that bad. Maybe a 3/5? In any case, a total waste of my time and money!

2/20/2006 11:05:00 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about MBalogh.
BUT, the first book,starting THE SLIGHTLY series, A SUMMER TO REMEMBER, was very good IMHO;) It's the first of hers that I read and the reason I cont'd. I admit that with each one, I wondered why I cont'd. SUMMER was quite good, a bit like L Klepas.

I will not read Sparks. A good friend (who doesn't read "real romance" but knows I do) urged me to read it, how romantic it was, yadayada. But from all I've heard, its not like what we know and love. And true romance addicts, like me know the diff. Based on what you're saying here, my feeling was correct ;)
Unfortunately, a guy can write a mystery and still call it a romance if he chooses....Or whatever :(
Just look at the erotica the men write in Playboy and Hustler and you have an answer right there as to men writing about sex and romance :P Paalease!


2/20/2006 12:46:00 PM  

Blogger Mary said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/20/2006 06:00:00 PM  

Anonymous Jen said...

Hey, I happen to like NS. :D I agree with VT, The Notebook is good. As a matter of fact, so is its sequel. :)

2/20/2006 10:40:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really must disagree about NS. He can write...and for a guy, that is rare!

And just because he doesn't write sex scene like a cheap porno, does not mean that it's not romance.

2/20/2006 11:29:00 PM  

Anonymous ALE said...

I think the point is that men make everything far more tragic than the majority of good romance writers. Plus, romance novels end happily, not with you pissed off at the author for killing off your favorite hero/heroine. Look at NS, I like him as well but the only book that didn't piss me off at some point (and make me cry like a baby) because of some depressing thing happening was the Wedding (which I highly rec.).
As for sex scenes written like a cheap porno, well there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

2/20/2006 11:44:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strumpet, I never heard of MBs SILENT MELODY. Glad I missed it;)

I really have no ground to speak of NS cuz I've not read his. But I do not like reading devasting tragedy so I guess that's where my negative op came from.

I've read superhot, graphic romance and also less detailed sex scenes. Both can be equally romantic, highly dependent on the author's ability to create that special relationship.

Why do you think, out of the many, many successful romance authors, that none are men? May be cuz they just don't get it? Not accusing, just curious...:)


2/21/2006 12:37:00 AM  

Blogger Marlene D. Malone said...


I too think Nicholas Sparks is a good writer, but he is not a romance novelist. I'd say he writes more on tragedy.

And to the person who spoke of men writing erotica in Playboy: I have one thing to say, read The Story of O by Pauline Reage. She's got 'em all beat!

2/21/2006 07:50:00 AM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

I think the point is that men can't seem to write a romance that does not end tragically. And if by some miracle the main characters are still alive in the end, they're either missing body parts, have gone blind, are in a wheelchair or do not end together! That does not mean they're bad writers, it just means, that to me, that is not romantic.

I expect my characters to be alive and complete in the end lol I wonder where these men got the notion that this is what women expect from a romance novel!

2/21/2006 08:13:00 AM  

Blogger Currin Girl said...

I'm in line with Harlot on Nicholas Sparks, that bit of tree deserves more dignity than ending up as a Nicholas Sparks' book.

But as a person who doesn't favor film adaptations of books, The Notebook was one exception.

2/21/2006 12:08:00 PM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

I really liked the movie adaptation of the notebook, it's probably one of the only films I've seen that's stayed true to the book.


LOL'd with that "tree deserves more dignity" thing!!! Very funny :D

2/21/2006 10:27:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have love it if the actress playing the young girl is not so Twitty! She laughs too much, she's too much! She ruined the movie for me. I tried to ignore her, but alas, that's impossible!

2/22/2006 04:24:00 AM  

Blogger Currin Girl said...

Trollop - I'm a recently converted fan, so I'm honored!

2/22/2006 11:58:00 PM  

Blogger TJ said...

You are sooo funny!

2/23/2006 06:03:00 AM  

Anonymous illinigirl54 said...

I agree with harlot regarding Nicholas Sparks. I read The Notebook when it first was published and I was horribly disappointed. I kept thinking, this is it?!?! It fell flat to me, and I didn't watch the movie until after it was on DVD for several months and there wasn't much else left that my husband and I hadn't seen. It was OK, but not the "great" movie everyone said it was. My husband thought it was better than I did. It felt exactly like the book- nothing great, predictable, and left me wondering is this it.... I feel that I've been robbed of too many hours of my life.

3/14/2006 01:27:00 AM