Comments: 5
"But I have to admit, I do prefer it when the female victims turn the tables on the attackers, having finally had enough of all the torture and the rape and the violence, turns vigilante and embark on some hatred-fueled murdering, killing all the fu#$%ers. The often contradictory nature of human "nature" makes many people uncomfortable but there you have it. We are a species with one foot rooted in the animal world (we are mammals after all), and one foot stuck in the complex human-only world."
Ceridwen 7 years ago
Yeah, word, I like a good woman's revenge fantasy as much as the next girl, especially given how many novels (especially crime novels like Block's) open with a woman raped/murdered/stuck in a fridge in order to motivate the men in her life. But while I'd agree with some of your assessments about why we read crime or romance fiction, I think it's ultimately a lot more messy.

Romance is no monolith, and while certainly there are books written and consumed for their sexual content (in order to be "turned on"), a whole bunch of it isn't written towards that end. There are whole subgenres, like Amish romance, or Mormon romance, or a lot of contemporary Christian romance, where the romantic pairs might go so far as to hold hands. They're domestic and romantic fantasies, to be sure, but the desires they are fulfilling are less fleshy.

I myself gravitate to romance novels (or urban fantasy, which is much the same thing, but with less emphasis on the romantic pair) that have the same kind of content and themes as my non-romance reading. So, I'm a science fiction and fantasy nerd, therefore I read science fiction and fantasy romance novels. I like body horror, therefore I like paranormals with shapeshifters or vamps or werewolves, the way those books often deal with very explicit bodily trauma and physical otherness. Honestly the scariest fucking body horror I've read has been in a paranormal romance book, and I read a lot of horror writer Tony Burgess, and his shit is completely bananas. I mean, I like me a good sex scene, but I also like me a good fight scene or gross out, and I'm likely to find all three in PNR. Basically, the romance I read explores different emotional registers than the non-romance stuff, things that are overlooked or ignored in contemporary lit.

Whoa, tl;dr. I guess I have some opinions!
I'm also a SF nerd at heart. I'll always be that. It doesn't matter how much I read Shakespeare, German poetry or shit like that, I always come back to my first love: SF. When I analyze stuff outside the SF field. I tend to be a little biased, to say the least. That's why when it comes to genres I'm less familiar with, I always ask for an opinion. I did that before I sat down to write the text. I read your reply very carefully and I tend to agree with you. Any kind of genre, when done right, offers that "je ne se quois feeling" that we don't get anywhere else.
And I'm glad you commented. Some people preferred to give me a private comment due, maybe, to the touchy nature of the post I think lol...
Ceridwen 7 years ago
Ha, yeah, people get super touchy about genre reading, it's true. It's not considered as "good for you" as literary fiction or whatever. So I think, as a result of this perceived inadequacy, genre readers can turn to boosterism, and criticism is seen as an attack. I certainly see this in the romance genre, which despite being, by far, the most voluminous genre (I think 7 out of 10 books published is a romance novel), is totally slagged by people who have never once read a romance. So romance readers get real fucking touchy about even criticism from within the ranks, and the critical tradition is just not as robust as it could be. That's changing, but not without some real knock down drag out fights.

I see this touchiness in sff readers if you criticize stuff like Game of Thrones or The Name of the Wind. Those fanboys are relentless when you suggest those books may not be perfect. I'm not even sure why, although often it seems like it's because I'm a woman and how dare I. But I've seen them go after other guys too, so that's not the most solid theory.