31 October 2011

Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels (Sarah Wendell)

Man, I feel guilty about not loving EIKAL. Esp. cause I went in on my day off to meet Smart Bitch Sarah Wendell at Posman’s, and she is every morsel as funny and gracious as in person as she is online. Let me hasten to add: I liked it, quite a lot. It’s a cogent defense of how romance novels—rather than giving women unrealistic expectations that doom them to unhappy relationships forever—give them an arsenal of tools to recognize and create happy alliances. Her argument is bolstered by quotes & weigh-ins from romance authors and readers, and she is absolutely right—since when could you say that about an opinionated book? Too, I kept getting all mushy-smirky about what a perfect Romance Hero my own boyfriend is: smart and charming and caring and supportive and all that good stuff. (MWAH, sweetie!)

A few things keep me from being All About This Book, though. First, the layout sucks. Pull quotes in a book make me think I’m reading a book For Dummies, and this is not a dumb or simplistic book! Second, I kinda got tired of reading quotes from folks who weren’t Sarah; the book often felt more like a comment thread, which is fine, but an entirely different style of reading for me, and I had trouble making the transition from screen to page. Finally, the very cogency and seriousness of EIKAL made it less enjoyable for me than the freewheeling snark of her previous book (with Smart Bitches co-founder Candy Tan), Beyond Heaving Bosoms, which made me laugh hard enough to disturb the cat, like, every other page. Obviously Sarah wasn’t intending this to be a humorous book (at least, not an entirely humorous book: lady can’t write 200 pages without being funny) —fighting the demonization/dismissal of romance novels is very important to her, and to me. So it’s not really a fair criticism—let’s just call it a preference.

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