Saturday, June 16, 2007
Weirdest Genre Label Ever
As far as I'm concerned, nothing I write is suitable for anyone under the age of forty. Imagine my surprise, then, when my first two novels wound up categorized as YA because they have young protagonists. The Necessary Beggar also wound up on some romance lists, but that actually makes sense, since two love stories (one tragic, one comic) are at the heart of the story.
But now Shelter has evidently been reviewed as romance. Huh? I haven't been able to read this review yet -- there's a two-month delay before reviews are available online, to give subscribers to the dead-tree version the advantage -- but I can't wait to see how the reviewer justifies that marketing label. Yes, the story includes many relationships, both romantic and otherwise, but nearly all of them are doomed in one way or another: the only successful ones happen mainly offstage.
Anyway, any story that isn't about sociopathic hermits will include relationships of some sort, right? Are all stories romance, then?
To my mind, calling Shelter romance because some of its characters court and marry is like calling The Silence of the Lambs chick-lit because there's sewing in it. I think that novel's brilliant, especially in its attention to class and gender, and I've taught it to beginning literature students as a particularly accessible introduction to those theoretical lenses. I consider it a strongly feminist text -- but I wouldn't describe it as chick-lit, would you?
Shelter as romance reminds me of the reader who described my story "Gestella," as horrific a piece as I've ever written, as "a sweet and sad love story."
Yikes. What story did you read?