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romance and complaints

2003-08-12 - 2:47 p.m.

Sitting by my lonesome at lunch, for some reason I started thinking about storybook romance. I mean literally, about the romances we read in stories. Now when I read what I fondly refer to as "junk," it's either science fiction or mystery, and they almost all have a romance hidden away in there. But they also almost all seem so fake. I mean, when was the last time you read a book with a romantic subplot that rang true?

I think the master of this is Jane Austen. When we read Pride and Prejudice, no one ever wonders why Darcy and Elizabeth fell in love. It's so plain, so obvious and so perfect. The reader sees where they fit together, and more importantly, sees them falling in love. In a lot of stories, the romantic leads just turn to each other about 4/5 of the way through and suddenly realize they're in love. There's no build-up of tenderness, no attraction other than physical, no sense of what kind of future they might have once the book is over. And I'm getting sick of it. Stop giving me romance just because you think I expect it. If you are too goddamn lazy or unskilled to write it properly, then just don't. Even Helen Fielding, whom I normally love, doesn't do a great job at this. Of course I know why Bridget Jones loves Mark Darcy--he is Mr. Darcy, and what woman hasn't swooned over the big D-man? But why does Mark Darcy love Bridget? That's what I don't see in modern novels. I know one could say that BJD is a diary and therefore Fielding is off the hook as to why Darcy loves Bridget. But damn it, I have a clue as to why my husband loves me. I have a clue as to what the attraction is, and I think I could make a convincing case, which Bridget Jones never does. Mark Darcy bears more than a passing resemblance to Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, but there is little of Elizabeth Bennett in Bridget Jones--and this does not work, which is put into crystal clear relief by the fact that Austen drew the Darcy-Elizabeth relationship so well.

I'm tired of a couple longing glances and some hot action being a substitute for romance in literature and movies. Sure, Elizabeth and Darcy had longing looks aplenty--but they also had conversation, misunderstandings, revelations, and felicity born of like minds. Darcy didn't fall for Elizabeth because the plot required it, he fell for her because he couldn't help it--because he was irrestibly attracted to her very nature--and to her fine eyes. In "The Matrix" Neo fell for Trinity apparently because she was there and looked decent in her pleather--and I could go on and on in this vein.

If I ever write a novel, perhaps it shan't contain any romance at all. Perhaps it shall simply be about a crusty old hermit and her pack of wild and wooly Bouviers. Now that's a story.

Still listening to Faure Requiem and Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna. Bought at bookstore yesterday: Lirael by Garth Nix (sequel to Sabriel, which was great except for the lame-ass romance); To the Nines: A Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evanovich (good so far, has one decent semi-well-drawn romance and one that is lame-ass); Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (refreshingly free of romance and instead highly dependent on Christian allegory; am taking an online course to help make sense of the allegory); Zen Guitar for the husband, who is considering taking guitar. Unfortunately he has decided he probably wouldn't read it, so I'm returning that and getting him an "Idiot's Guide to Guitar," as well as badgering him about a teacher.

 

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