Friday, January 4, 2008

Literature intolerant

“Genre is actually a recent invention, stemming from the period when there began to be too many books published for any one or even small group of people to read them all. There had to be some way of pre-sorting them. I find genre labels helpful when they guide readers to books, hurtful when they push them away. Genre is good as a door but bad as a wall, in other words—but since that wall really only exists in people’s minds, it never hurts to coax folks to be more adventurous.”
- Lois McMaster Bujold


Even before I started reading romance novels some five years ago, I always heard people dissing the genre. Be it for the covers or the poor writing or because it’s considered fluff with no real essence—or maybe because of the boy meets girl: they fight they make up, get married, have babies and live happily ever-after.

Now, as much as I dislike people who snub romance, I detest romance snobs more. You know the ones: romance readers who diss other genres just because they don’t fit the formula above. They complain about romance novels being treated poorly in the literary world yet they refuse to pick up a book that doesn’t include steamy sex scenes and a HEA.

I understand those that have tried other genres—and by that I don’t mean picking up ONE detective novel and leaving it after the third chapter; I’m saying giving it a REAL chance. Buying different novels by different authors that include a wide variety of topics and reading them through, and not comparing it to romance or pretending it’s romance.

Of course, if you are not interested in doing that it’s fine with me (I really could care less what people choose to read LOL) but don’t you dare say you won’t read “whatever book” because you don’t like that genre or because you only enjoy straight romance. I will think you are an ignorant fool if you say such a thing to me, so be warned of my wrath!

Kidding aside, guys, how can people go around saying stuff like “I don’t see how anyone could be a [famous romance author] fan AND a Harry Potter fan...” or “I only like romance and will read no other genre,” when you haven’t tried anything else that is out there!!!

For some reason this infuriates me; perhaps because what I hate most, above all (besides that “Power of Love” song), is stupidity.


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11 comment(s):

Blogger ...dance? said...

Genre snobs suck.

Honestly, is it so difficult to see the difference between "(all) romance/sf/f/ya/mystery/etc is horrible" and "[genre] is not for me"?

But then I have terribly lax views on genre and will genre-bend or cross to fit my needs, so it's not like I've ever been married to any one genre. ;)

I still think Lois McMaster Bujold said it best: " Genre is actually a recent invention, stemming from the period when there began to be too many books published for any one or even small group of people to read them all. There had to be some way of pre-sorting them. I find genre labels helpful when they guide readers to books, hurtful when they push them away. Genre is good as a door but bad as a wall, in other words — but since that wall really only exists in people’s minds, it never hurts to coax folks to be more adventurous."

1/04/2008 03:16:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Great quote, Dance.

Genre snobs, just... stupid. Stupidly limiting and denying yourself.

It's like saying The Iliad doesn't matter unless you like war or you're a freaking Greek. Or an adulterer, heh.

1/04/2008 03:51:00 PM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

Dance, what a great quote! I'll edit to add it to my post. tnx :D

1/04/2008 04:36:00 PM  

Anonymous Ollenska said...

Genre Shmanra. Look, forget the genre. Just read good writing and skim the crap.

Olly

1/04/2008 06:50:00 PM  

Blogger Jolie said...

Now that you've posted about this, I have to mention the different editions of Harry Potter books. Why do they have the kiddies edition and then the adult edition?

When the first HP book came out in 2 editions, the kiddie one had a bright colorful cover illustration. The adult edition had a comely black cover with a monochromatic illustration. For what? So "adults" could read the book on their morning commute without people realizing that they were reading kiddie fiction. Take that for genre snobbery.

1/04/2008 07:10:00 PM  

Anonymous Gabrielle said...

Jolie, I know what you mean. Why be ashamed to read books that you enjoy?

I love romance and I sometimes find it hard to break free of it. But then I come across amazing authors like Jodi Picoult. There's hardly anything romantic about her books but I still love every single one of them.

Genre snobbery is just stupid.

1/04/2008 10:04:00 PM  

Blogger Jordis Juice said...

I am a romance person myself seeing as romance is my favorite genre. I do enjoy other genres, though.

I have no problems with separation into genre but I am puzzled about separation into genre by author, rather than by book. Did you notice it only happens in fiction? In non-fiction, separation is done by subject matter instead of typecasting the author as a particular type of writer.

1/05/2008 07:15:00 AM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

Though I love romance, I wouldn't say it's my favorite genre; it is however the one I read the most.

When someone recs a book to me and says it's a romance I have expectations for it, b/c I read romance novels to scape and somehow for comfort. I know it will end with a HEA and when I read them that's the mood I'm in and what I need at the moment.

Then I'll read something like Outlander or the Bronze Horseman which people talk about as being the best romances ever and I end up horribly disappointed and let down. So even if/when the book is amazing, like TBH, I feel I was robbed of the comfort I was expecting/looking for. Does this happen to anyone else?

1/05/2008 08:09:00 AM  

Blogger Isabella said...

"I have to mention the different editions of Harry Potter books. Why do they have the kiddies edition and then the adult edition?"

Ok, I have to ask: is there any difference between the HP adult version and the kiddy version? I don't know....maybe there are bedroom actions in the adult one? LOL!

1/05/2008 06:32:00 PM  

Blogger Jolie said...

HP adult version: I heard there's a bedroom action between Pomfrey and Dumbledore. LOL!

I think the real snobbery lies in literary fiction shelf. In every bookstore you'll see a general fiction shelf. A lot of authors started in one shelf and should mostly be in the other. I bet many people have bought books because they believe that's what they should be reading ("classic" or "booker prize section"), not because they actually enjoy it.

Also, bookstores are sorting books in the way that sells most rather than its works' quality.

1/06/2008 03:24:00 AM  

Blogger ...dance? said...

I wouldn't say it's my favorite genre; it is however the one I read the most.

Same here, though I tend to go in cycles with my romance reading. At the moment, I'm not reading very many, but other times, it might be nearly all I'm reading.

Although I wouldn't have called Outlander or The Bronze Horseman "romance" -- not in the strictest sense of how the genre seems to define itself anyway.

I understand wanting to know exactly what you're going to be reading; I get that way too sometimes. It's something that seems to be both the appeal and limitation (especially when a book is written badly) of the romance genre.

Mysteries and SF/F have their "formula" too, a resolution to a case or quest, but I think there's a bit more leeway in the emotions, I guess, of how it ends. It can be happy, tragic, bittersweet, etc, while a romance pretty much *has* to be happily ever after -- and that's not always easy to sell believably and in a way that fits the story.

...Or perhaps, it's that the rest of the story has to fit the "required" ending. And that's probably why I have a hard time buying vampire (or other mystically "dark") heroes when they're in romance novels. I know they're not going to do anything that'd jeopardize the HEA, and that means the story/character (which is the important part) loses a lot of its tension, for me.

1/06/2008 04:59:00 AM