Monday, April 16, 2007

What She Said


Relating to my "launched into the stratosphere" blog below comes an interview with an author (Lionel Shriver) whose last release, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, won a major literary award, the 2005 Orange Prize.

Speaking of that book and her new release, and the expectations raised because she won that prize, she says, "It's like being a horse and you have to win the race. I feel that. You're a product. You make products; you have people counting on you and they may seem to like you and they may really like you. But that's not the point. You want to be able to sell a lot of products. And you have to produce and it's a little unnerving. Also nothing to be complaining about."

In the same interview, however, she expresses her dismay that her new book has been given only to female reviewers. To quote from the article:

"....the fact that almost all reviews were assigned to women was bugging her more, and bugging her bad.

"It's not a women's book. I don't write women's books," Shriver says in an accent that shows no traces whatsoever of her 20 years in Britain.

"There's a ghettoization of books by women. Especially if they have a female protagonist, then it's for the girls and they give it to a woman to review."

Although The Post-Birthday World is a novel about romance and love, it's not a romantic novel. It's not a book about a star couple smiling gleefully on the cover of Hello! magazine or, in Shriver's words, the "moments when the champagne arrives."

Instead, it's a novel that revels in those dinners when lovers run out of things to say by the time they've placed their orders. "It's trying to talk about romance on the level we live it and not as in that glossy magazine way," she adds."

Okay, first, I don't get what she means by "that glossy magazine way." Unrealistic? I try to make the romantic relationship between my characters believable; I want my readers to think it could have happened that way. And there's not a lot "glossy" about the Middle Ages.

I also have yet to read a romance novel that's all about the "moments when the champagne arrives." That would be the end of the book. The very end. What about all the drama and conflict before that?

I doubt Ms. shriver has actually read a romance novel. In fact, I suspect she would consider that beneath her. The way this interview sounds, it's like she's saying, "I don't write women's books" the way she would say, "I don't shovel shite."

I understand what prompts a writer to say such things. She wants her work to be respected, and she feels that if it's considered a romance, it won't be.

Welcome to my world, Ms. Shriver.

It's bad enough that men disparage romance novels. We don't need women writers to disparage them, too.

Ghettoization? Pot, meet kettle.

ETA: If the disrespect disturbs you, too, check out this interview at Dear Author.com. It made me want to stand up and cheer.

5 comments:

trish said...

What a great way to alienate possible readers. Sounds like she has open mouth insert foot syndrome.

Margaret Moore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margaret Moore said...

Let me try this again, major type free:

I think Ms. Shriver felt as we all do when we're not being treated with respect (upset), and she had a valid point about the reviews -- only women can review books written by women? However, she then proceeded to talk about romance novels with disrespect, and that's what got me riled.

Margaret Moore said...

Oh, geez, that's "typo free". I think I better call it a day!

Maureen McGowan said...

It pains me that female writers who bemoan the ghettoization of female writers (which I totally believe is true) also contribute to it by saying things like "i'm not like them". "I don't write books like "those" books." It just pushes us all further into the ghetto. The prejudice against romance novels is astounding. And I must admit that, out of ignorance of the genre, I used to be prejudiced against them, too.