Romance novels are a billion-dollar-a-year industry and make up 46 percent of all mass-market paperbacks sold in America; the publishing company Harlequin claims that half of its customers buys 30 of its novels every month; it also claims to sell more than four books per second. How did the pabulum of Fifty Shades manage to rise above such a mind-stinging preponderance of crap?Really? Every single romance story is crap? You've read all of them, Mr Giraldi? Every last one on the shelves, including the New York bestselling authors? No? Let's be honest. You saw the phenomenon of FSoG and decided to write a stinging article about it being top of the heap. Because this little titbit emerged.
Dreck of this stupendous caliber has a particular advantage over literature in that one doesn't have to read all of it to surmise, accurately and eternally, that it is all uniformly awful and awfully uniformromance novels, like racists, tend to be the same wherever you turn.
Alyssa Rosenberg has written this post in response. Men, stop lecturing women about reading romance novels. She is no more enamoured of FSoG than William Geraldi is but she puts the romance genre in context.
Romance novels are attractive not just because they are a gratifying escape but also because they sometimes feel like a respite from from the significant hostility that a lot of literature shows women.I see that he thinks we should be reading classics but I wonder, does Mr Giraldi apply the same sneering attitude to thrillers or horror? This is pure speculation but probably not. Because that's fiction dominated by and for men, and it's much easier to take pot-shots at women's fiction.
Look, I've read the classics since I was a teenager. I've read Sartre side by side with Barbara Cartland. I've read D.H. Lawrence and Mills & Boon, Chaucer as I read horror and fantasy. I am not limited by my love of romance. It has its place in my life, as does Jane Austen or Shakespeare.
Would I criticise the reader who picked up FSoG and loved it? Hell bloody no. My neighbour spent hours talking about it to me and she didn't read. She does now. Let me say that again.
She went from being a non-reader to a reader because of Fifty Shades of Grey.
The romance genre is a force to be reckoned with. Giraldi's article says romance novels "make up 46 percent of all mass-market paperbacks sold in America". This seems to stick in his craw. Poor guy.
I write MM romance. Men read them. Yes, I have an audience of men and women. We write relationship-focused books and provide escapism for our readers. Our genre is growing all the time. Guess what, Mr Giraldi, condescending lectures on what you think we should be reading will be treated with the same respect and attention you've just given us.
Peeved of London