Romance genres – according to the Smart Bitches

Standard

According to Sarah Wendell & Candy TanSaying that you read romance is like saying you like food. Just as there’s a world of difference between homemade panang curry and an Egg McMuffin, there’s mind-boggling variety in the romance genre. It’s huge. Huge like Fabio’s pectorals crossed with Diana Gabaldon’s total word count. Consider the types of books that can fall under the heading ‘Romance’:

There’s historical romance – but what kind of historical romance? A traditional Regency, in which the hero and heroine barely kiss? A novel set in the Victorian era, featuring bondage and anal sex? A story about lovers in ancient Rome? Colonial American? An American western? How about something set in Revolutionary France, or fourteenth-century Florence?

And contemporaries: is it a category romance or a single title? Is it a mystery or romantic suspense? (For the record, ‘romantic suspense’ [-p.9] does not mean that the romance is in doubt and must be investigated. It does, however, mean that there is an 87.6 percent likelihood that the cover will feature two people running.) Is it a comedy? An ensemble of women that could be ‘women’s fiction’ or chick-lit? (We’d just like to note for the record that that’s one of the worst terms ever to hit the genre since ‘bodice ripper’.) A wrenching story of emotional recovery, complete with a winning, adorable rescue dog?

And then we get to the landscape of paranormals: Vampires! Werewolves! Vampire werewolves! Mummies! Psychics! The undead! The reanimated! The demonic and the celestial! The slayers, the fey, the wee folk, the fairies, trolls, and selkies. They all fall under ‘paranormal,’ which has its roots in an ancient Greek word meaning ‘overcrowded genre’.

And then there’s that scary place, the crossroads of romance, fantasy, and perhaps even science fiction…. In fantasy or science-fiction romance, the fate of the entire fucking universe can depend on the Happily Ever After of the hero and heroine. No pressure or anything. It’s a scary mixture, but it works. Why? Because romance deals with one of the most elemental blocks of human relationships. Just as any work of fiction can have a romantic element, any romance can include the elements of other popular fictional genres. The genre is huge, creative, evolving, and a multiavenue crossroads of just about every other type of fiction. And it has been ignored for far too long.” (pp.8-9)

Ref: (italics in original) Sarah Wendell & Candy Tan (2009) Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels. Fireside: New York

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s