Thoughtful Thursday – Romance Coming Out of the Closet

closet.jpgToday’s Thoughtful Thursday is all about Romance Coming Out of the Closet and was inspired by a number of things that have happened lately, but really have blossomed this week.

During the last year or so, I’ve had the chance to speak with at least three young women who decided to do a thesis on Romance. Imagine, literary tomes about romance novels — a genre that some consider to not even rate the title of literature.

Last night I received a copy of my university’s magazine and there I was!! I had been interviewed for the Villanova piece last May by a delightful young woman. We had a great time doing the interview on the Villanova campus and she did a beautiful job with the article. The magazine should be posted up on the web soon and when it is, I’ll provide the link.

Finally, tomorrow I’m giving a talk at Swarthmore College. Like Villanova, Swarthmore is one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges. The Topic: Empowering Women and Latinas in Modern Publishing: How the South Beach Chicas Caught More Than Their Man.

It’s exciting for me to think about discussing romance with some of the nation’s brightest young women and even more exciting to know that many of them enjoy reading romance.

That’s what makes me believe that Romance is coming out of the closet. That it’s time we look at romance and see how it empowers women and why we shouldn’t be made to feel shame for either writing it or reading it. We should embrace all that it offers women and acknowledge that the romance industry, with nearly 1.4 billion in sales this year, is a force to be reckoned with.

Although not all people seem to see it that way. Note this comment from Dwight Garner, senior editor of The Book Review, on the Papercuts blog at the New York Times when asked about the NYT review and book selection policy:

    “Reviewing romance novels: whew. We don’t have room to review so very many things we’d like to; is reviewing romances really the best use of our space? Can’t the readers who love them find news of them elsewhere?”

Dwight does also say the following in that comment and in another later note on the blog:

    “Who does do a good job of reviewing them, anyway? Who is the Lionel Trilling of romance critics? Maybe we should hire that person, whoever he or she is. . . Hope you’ll keep reading. I’ll be looking (really) for that great romance novel critic.”

I wonder if they ever found that romance novel critic? I wouldn’t know since this is part of the reason I stopped buying the Sunday New York Times.

Also, in an era where so many papers are either eliminating or cutting back on their review sections, don’t you have to ask yourself if part of the problem is what they are reviewing? That if they maybe reviewed books that had greater public appeal, you might have more book review readers?

Certainly the many online romance review sites — yes, those places where readers who love romance find news — are flourishing. Why? Because of the dearth of romance novel reviews in so many newspapers and magazines.

But maybe not for long. Maybe the signs I’ve seen lately are an indication that romance is coming out of the closet.

What do you think?