Monday, January 08, 2007

Serial Killer? Cool! Romance? Yuck!

I recently finished reading two books about a serial killer named Dexter, Darkly Dreaming Dexter and Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. (There's something to be said for having to spend an afternoon waiting for your car handle to be repaired.)

I note both are helpfully additionally titled "A Novel." Apparently somebody thinks readers aren't going to realize they're in the fiction section. However, given how real Jeff Lindsay makes Dexter, this isn't perhaps quite as patronizing as it seems. Or maybe the idea was to give the book more "class." To indicate it was a "cut above" (oh, bad pun!) the usual thriller.

Whatever they were thinking, Jeff Lindsay has certainly created a fascinating, very realistic character. Whoever thought a serial killer could be a "good guy?" But Mr. Lindsay has pulled it off.

I have to say, I preferred the first book, though, because the details of the killings were left somewhat vague. In the second book, not so much. I was uncomfortably reminded of a movie I sincerely wish I'd never seen, Seven.

However, it also occurred to me that if I were to tell people, especially post Hannibal Lector, that I was writing about a serial killer, the reaction, especially from men, would be, "Cool!" But tell people, and again, especially the male of our species, that I'm writing a romance? Revulsion and a look as if they'd just bitten into something really loathsome. Serial killer? Great! Love? Oh, no....

Why is that, I wonder?

And why does it seem that when it comes to other media, romance is only considered worth the effort if it's done for laffs, as in what passes for romantic comedy movies these days, or tragedy -- somebody has to die. There doesn't seem to be a place for a serious romance where the hero and heroine get to live happily ever after.

On the other hand, maybe I should be happy Hollywood hasn't figured out how to do romance. Otherwise, people might not be reading so much of it and I'd be out of a job.


Jennifer Y. said...

I have never read the Dexter books, but have heard great things about the TV show based on them.

Margaret Moore said...

Oh, definitely read the books, especially the first!