Monday Morning Stepback: Condoms with Teeth, Addiction, and AAR's new look

The weekly links, opinion and miscellaneous post

1. Links of Interest (from the past 2 weeks)

It’s Jean-Paul Sartre’s birthday today. In honor of the occasion, I will link to that beloved old chestnut, The Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook:

I have realized that the traditional omelet form (eggs and cheese) is bourgeois. Today I tried making one out of a cigarette, some coffee, and four tiny stones.

All About Romance’s redesign is on display today. The aesthetics are not my cuppa, but I think it is much easier to navigate and read. What do you think? I am planning a major redesign and am intensely interested in these things at the moment. It’s like when you are shopping for new light fixtures or a new car and suddenly you notice every make and model on the road.

What You Talk about when You Talk About Not Having Time to Read by Minnesota writer Jodi Chromey (from @bookladysblog)

I hate “have time to read” for two reasons. First, it insinuates that the reader does nothing but fritter away his/her time lazing about reading . . . books! Books! Oh, just think of all that lascivious self-indulgence. If only we too had the time to do something so decadent. But no, we are much too busy and important to have time to read books.

It was only a matter of time. From On Fiction, a report on a presentation about the neural bases of creative writing. Follow the link for an image of your brain on writing.

Mrs. Giggles on the Hierarchy of Nationality in Romance. Guess who comes out on top?

Over at Unusual Historicals, author Lisa Yarde on What Surprised Me: Ancient and Medieval Prostitution

Author Jeannie Lin links to a discussion about Asian characters on covers.

I liked this post from The Reading Experience on John Dewey and Perception. Dewey identifies the function of and two common errors in criticism. The post makes me want to re-read Art as Experience.

A brief but compelling defense of the claim that Romance is THE genre from Karen Anders over at the Blaze Authors Blog.

At Abe Books, Beth Carswell on Literary Towns, with a discussion of the effect of The Twilight Saga on Forks, Washington (via Books Inq.)

Forget zombies: Minotaurs are the New Vampires. From The Onion.

Marg at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader asked What Is A Book Blogger? Is an author blog a book blog? Good question.

An older post, but as a Buffy fan, I found it really interesting. At Feministe, “How Come It’s Never Joss’s Fault?

What [a critic of season 5 or 6] wants to talk about is not characterisation, plot, embedded contexts in the show, but what a horrible person Marti Noxon is, and how she ruined everything, and how Joss never should have abandoned Buffy, leaving the show in the hands of a woman. How it’s obvious that Marti and other female creators involved in the show are to blame for everything that went wrong. They’re ‘working out their issues’ or they are just not capable of handling a big television show all on their lonesomes or Joss gave them too much leeway.

Penelope is talking about the ARC conundrum:

So, in conclusion, you can probably tell that I am really conflicted about this whole issue. On one hand, I hate having the magic wrecked by so many folks reading books before I get my hands on a copy, and on the other hand, I am eternally grateful to reviewers willing to read them from an author’s perspective.

I’ve mentioned the new series on Philosophy at the New York Times. Well, this week it’s feminist political philosopher Nancy Bauer on Lady Gaga.

The tension in Gaga’s self-presentation, far from being idiosyncratic or self-contradictory, epitomizes the situation of a certain class of comfortably affluent young women today. There’s a reason they love Gaga. On the one hand, they have been raised to understand themselves according to the old American dream, one that used to be beyond women’s grasp: the world is basically your oyster, and if you just believe in yourself, stay faithful to who you are, and work hard and cannily enough, you’ll get the pearl. On the other hand, there is more pressure on them than ever to care about being sexually attractive according to the reigning norms. The genius of Gaga is to make it seem obvious — more so than even Madonna once did — that feminine sexuality is the perfect shucking knife.

When we were in South Africa earlier this year, we spent a lot of time talking with our tour guides about the social and political issues facing the country today. One of them was rape. A child is raped in south Africa every three minutes. When you have a country in which 1 in 4 men admits he has raped someone, you have a very big problem. Is a female condom with teeth one way for women, at least, to fight back?

2. Addiction in romance: a minirant

Holly at the Book Binge reviewed a book in which the hero is a gambling addict. She didn’t like the book for legitimate literary reasons: because she felt the relationship with the heroine was abusive, and because she didn’t believe in the hero’s recovery, which was addressed in a brief unpersuasive epilogue. You can read the full review here. A month or so, there was a similar discussion about a book by Stacia Kane, whose heroine was compromised by addiction. Some folks made comments along the lines of not wanting to read about addicts.

I would just like to be a voice, right here, for recognizing the right of addicted people to love and be loved, and to have their happily ever after. I understand that we are genre readers, and just as having a heroine who is battling cancer or poverty or partner abuse lose — or appear to lose — her battle at the end of the book violates our legitimate genre expectations and disappoints us as readers, so I can understand why an unrecovered addict might do so as well (unless, as is apparently the case for Kane’s book, it is the first installment of a series). But unless you have a personal experience which makes reading about addiction struggles triggering for you, to say “I won’t read about addicts”, sounds, to me, an awful lot like a negative moral judgment. Addiction in the US is a major issue, not just to drugs and alcohol, but to nicotine, to gambling, and even, dear reader, to the internet. People can become addicted in all kinds of ways, including by being introduced as children by their parents, as patients by their doctors, and as victims by their abusive partners. Today, we understand that addiction is a disease, like any other disease. We know that addicts’ brains are different, sometimes before (thanks to genetics) and always after the addiction. Addicts are struggling against chronic and sometimes terminal disease, just like someone with cancer. But, unlike someone with cancer, the addict has to face discrimination and negative moral judgments as well. I am glad that romance writers are writing characters who struggle with addiction, and I hope they keep doing it.

3. On the blog this week

I have so many ideas for blog posts and so little time to write them! But watch out later tonight or tomorrow for my post on iconic romance novel covers, inspired by Abe Books’ post on 25 Iconic Covers. (posted it here)

I also have some reviews, of romance and nonromance. You may have noticed that, despite my name change, I’ve hesitated reviewing the nonromance, for the really bad reason that I am afraid people won’t read those reviews. I’ve decided not to care. *shrugs*

HAPPY WEEK!

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