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text 2018-02-21 20:46
Modeling agencies
A Natural History of the Romance Novel - Pamela Regis

I could do this as a "currently reading" title with periodic updates, but too much is going on, so I'm just going to leave a few notes here and there.  You can follow, or not, as you choose.

 

 

Regis bases her analysis of the content of romance novels on the literary theories of mid-20th century critic Northrop Frye.  She seems, therefore, to be trying to fit the popular fiction form of the romance novel into the academic model of "literature," as though the two were almost entirely distinct.  Any prose narrative that has already been accepted as "literature" by the credentialed academic community -- such as Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre -- has been granted respect.  Regis seems to be attempting to squeeze romance novels into the same mold while at the same time insisting they are so different from literature that they cannot be considered literature, but if they can be seen to share some characteristics, then they might be worthy of some respect.

 

Yes, it's contorted logic.  But Regis never comes out and admits romance novels -- as they are written, published, read, and enjoyed today -- are essentially no different in content or form from "literature."  That would be academic sacrilege.  A kind of "separate, but sort of equal" compromise that would allow her to sell her book without losing her academic standing.

 

Jane Austen didn't write "literature."  Neither did Charles Dickens.  Neither did Wilkie Collins or Victor Hugo.  Maybe it's time to look at more than a few samples from "literature," samples which already have the stamp of "romance novel," and look at more than a few samples of real romance novels from the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and compare them to a more neutral standard, and perhaps a more universal standard.  Then see how both of them stand up.

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text 2018-02-21 00:24
Planning to read -- How do you feel?
A Natural History of the Romance Novel - Pamela Regis

When I wrote my undergraduate honors thesis about romance novels in 2000, this book was still three years in the future. Though I had an academic publisher interested in a book-length version of Half Heaven, Half Heartache, I never followed up on it and ultimately saw the Regis book as what mine would/might have been.  So my "book" sat on the shelf.

 

A few years ago, however, an odd set of circumstances brought my attention back to A Natural History, and so I bought a copy.  The opening pages took me aback.

 

Rather than "a natural history," the Regis book opened like just another post-modern analysis of a varied genre that the author didn't really know, understand, or care about.The University of Pennsylvania imprint, of course, hinted that the tone would be academic rather than popular, in rather stark contrast to UPenn's 1994 anthology of essays by actual romance novelists, Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women.

 

Romance novels don't write themselves; they are written by people -- usually women -- who have read other romance novels and other romantic novels and other novels written by other people.  The Happy Ever After (HEA) ending continues to be disparaged even as it's deemed absolutely essential to the genre, and even while readers and writers proclaim novels without HEA are still romances.

 

It's not enough to subject a few selected novels to a Procrustean post-modern literary analysis and declare that to be the natural history of an entire genre.

 

I'm not sure how many romance novels I've read.  More than a few hundred certainly.  I've written (through to the HEA) a dozen or so; the unfinished starts are uncountable.  There are great romance novels and there are horrible ones.  Some are well-written, some are not.  They are short, they are long.  They are contemporary, they are historical, they are futuristic.  They are sweet, they are sexy, they are erotic.

 

Romance novels, however, still don't get respect.  Pamela Regis's book was supposed to give the genre the respect it deserved.  As far as I can see, it fails rather miserably.

 

I didn't want that to be the case.  I wanted A Natural History of the Romance Novel to succeed.  I wanted to see my favorite books and authors given pride of place in a serious, detailed analysis of the good points and bad points.  That's not what this book is.

 

So, it all comes back to my little thesis.  I guess I have some major reading to do.

 

 

 

 

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review 2018-02-14 21:49
This Will Be My Undoing
This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America - Morgan Jerkins

Sigh. I don't know what to say. This collection of essays is very good. Jerkins goes into the highs and lows of being a black woman in America. She goes into what it means to be a black woman while on travel (Russia and Japan). She goes into being a black woman trying to be successful, but still treated like she's from another world since many black men out there don't know what to do with a black woman who is out there being a success and doesn't have time for their foolishness. 

 

Jerkins goes into the cycles of black women in America. When you are just a kid and realize that your hair is going to take a lot of your time/sanity to deal with since you get treated a certain way if your nice is "ethnic." How she felt being one of the smartest girls in her school and how that caused backlash among other black girls. 


From there she goes into going to Princeton college and finding herself un-dateable. I had the opposite problem when I went to the University of Pittsburgh. I just used to lie and tell people I was in a relationship to be left alone. I was focused on finishing undergraduate and that was it. When I did get into graduate school was when I went and found a dude who wasn't worth anything. I am still mad that I loaned this boy (seriously he was such a child) money and he had the nerve to act like I was not being a "good" black woman since I refused to cook for him after coming home from an internship and classes. A few years ago he sent me a Facebook friend request. I was never so happy to block someone in my life.

 

A lot of Jerkins essays though go in unexpected ways. Her essay about Michelle Obama actually made me sad and mad. I still cannot believe how much Michelle Obama was attacked by the media and conservatives out there.  I don't blame her for not running for office in 2020. I would be sitting on a beach and just drinking all the wine. 

 

Another essay I loved was the one Jerkins wrote about how powerful Beyonce is to black women out there and how her latest album, Lemonade, touched a lot of us in many ways. You start to think you are the only one out there struggling with things, because as black women we are taught to keep our pain inside. Keep on walking, stay strong, don't ask for help, etc. Constantly being on guard to make sure you speak "right" around mixed groups, to not be the "angry black woman" so people can dismiss your points is exhausting as hell. 

 

Though I gave this four stars, I still marked it as a favorite. The only reason why I gave this four stars is that in some of the essays, Jerkins jumps around a lot that can get a bit confusing if you don't have context for some of the things she is talking about. Though I liked her essay on "Black Girl Magic" she goes into what the movement was about, how some people attacked it, and then a personal subject about a medical procedure she decided to undergo. It was a bit crowded in there for me in that chapter. I would have liked it if it was broken up. 

 

I also just liked the "How to Survive: A Manifesto on Paranoia and Peace" was not for me. I liked "How to be Docile" much better since she uses similar writing styles in both essays. 

 

I have never heard of Jerkins before, but am going to go out and take a look at some of her writing as soon as possible. 

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text 2018-02-14 21:33
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America - Morgan Jerkins

Wow. What a very good read! I may not agree with all things in this collection of essays, but Jerkins got me thinking which is never a bad thing. This starts off slow and it tends to jump around (essays) but there were some essays I found quite powerful which were: Monkeys Like You, A Lotus for Michelle, Black Girl Magic, Human, Not Black, and Who Will Write Us?

 

I wanted to finish this before I see Black Panther tomorrow night. I can't explain to my friends who are not POC how excited and joyful this movie makes me. It's like going out to a big block party. I have friends who I have not talked to in a long time who are meeting up for dinner first. We are dressing to the nines. And we will be living and breathing Wakanda for two hours. My aunt said to me the last time she remembers this many black people watching something that was almost solely black actors and actresses is when Roots came out. That was in 1977 (I was not alive at that time). 

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text 2018-02-14 21:27
Reading progress update: I've read 80%.
This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America - Morgan Jerkins

Lemonade is not simply a love story, but rather a multilayered portrait of all black woman experiences, all the pain that she endures, divided into eleven chapters: Intuition, Denial, Anger, Apathy, Emptiness, Accountability, Reformation, Forgiveness, Resurrection, Hope, and Redemption. 

 

 

 

Image result for i aint sorry gif 

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