Wednesday, February 22, 2006

And now, from the "Dirty Books Hidden in the Corn Crib" files and Yahoo! News...

Sudiegirl sez: I was never one for romance novels in the first place. I read a few (Danielle Steel, et al), but they just didn’t do much for me. I don’t know why…maybe I need to turn in my “girl card”. But I’m not sure how I like this new trend either.

Don’t get me wrong…I dig a good steamy read as much as the next person, but I worry about two individuals whose future depends on the “bodice-buster” romances of long ago. Fabio…and Snoopy. Snoopy especially…he’s been stuck on “It was a dark and stormy night…” for years, and something tells me that this will blow his little doggie mind. Let’s move along…

Romance novels for women get frankly sexual
(And guys named Frank are ecstatic.)

By Carol Memmott, USA TODAY
Tue Feb 21, 7:25 AM ET

Plain old courtship just doesn't seem to cut it anymore. At least not with readers of romance novels. (What is this…thing…you call “court-ship”? I’m confused.)

More women want more fiction about what's going on between the sheets, book publishers say. (Well, that is in keeping with the times.)

"If you had said five years ago, 'erotic, hot, sexy romances,' people would have said 'What, are you crazy?' " says Kensington editor in chief John Scognamiglio. "Publishing goes in cycles. Erotica now seems to be the new hot thing." (Well, just act as if Jacqueline Susann and Jackie Collins never wrote a damn book in their lives, why don’t ya?)

Kensington introduced its erotica line, Aphrodisia, in January. Harlequin's Spice imprint hits stores in May, and HarperCollins will publish the first two titles in its Avon Red line in June. Berkley was a pioneer with its Heat line last May. (I guess I just don’t appreciate the work that went into picking the names of these individual book lines. Is it just me, or do they all sound like cosmetics you can buy at your local dollar store that will cause a rash or numbness in the extremities?)

"Over the past few years, romances have gotten sexier," says Liate Stehlik of Avon Red, "And with the advent of Sex and the City and more sex in movies and online, there's a sexual aspect to all forms of entertainment that women are feeling more entitled to than they have in the past." (So does that leave Anais Nin in the dust?)

Mainstream bookstores also are finding erotica attractive. (Uh…see line above. I bought my one and only Anais Nin book in my college bookstore. I’ve seen “erotica” sections in bookstores for a while now…granted, I was wearing a trenchcoat and dark glasses so maybe the view was distorted a bit…)

Since Borders began carrying women's erotica in summer 2004, growth has been in the double digits, spokeswoman Beth Bingham says. "The customer is predominantly the existing romance customer." (So MY MOM has been buying EROTICA????? Oh, EEW…geriatric appeal. NOT good.)

But that doesn't mean customers fit a stereotype. (No, but the stereotype fits them.)

"They really appeal to a wide variety of women - 18- and 19-year-olds as well as women into their 50s and 60s," Harlequin's Susan Pezzack says. (Ohhhh…I don’t wanna think about my mom reading this stuff. She has enough trouble with her retinas detaching, thank you…no need to totally burn them up.)

Mainstream erotica has its roots in the romance genre, but these are not your mother's romance novels. (They better NOT be!)

"There doesn't need to be that period of wooing, the developing of emotions," Scognamiglio says. "If the heroine sees a guy she wants to sleep with, she's just going to go after him." (Yeah, but isn’t the “wooing” and “emotions” part of what makes sex really nice? At least for a chick?)

Says Pezzack: "Spice novels are fiction, not romance. They can have a romance in them, but the stories themselves are not about the romance." (Huh? Most novels I’ve read are fiction. What’s the difference between fiction and romance? Did this quoted person plan what they were going to say, or did someone with a mean sense of humor write it for them? I could see myself doing that, actually.)

Erotica can be chick lit, paranormal, literary fiction or thrillers.

"Any genre will work," Pezzack says, "just so long as it has really good erotica scenes."
The heroines may have different personalities, Scognamiglio says, but they are all "very take-charge, very in control."

And about those book covers? Forget Fabio-like men and helpless-looking buxom women. (BUT WHY???) Erotica covers, Scognamiglio says, are "elegant and upscale, but sexy ... (Aphrodisia covers) all show some sort of body part - a man and a woman or part of a man and a woman or a very hot, sexy guy." (Well, the “bodice buster” romances my mom likes to read show plenty of skin…heaving bosoms, oiled male torsos…velvet stretched to the extreme by large mammaries…cleavage…what’s the difference?)

Sudiegirl’s final opinion?
Yes, I worry about Snoopy’s novelistic explorations with the onset of this new literary trend. What should Snoopy do? Ask advice from James Frey? (Apparently, he’s a writer that really brings reality into his fiction – or fiction to his reality…)

And what’s gonna happen to Fabio? I mean, he’s going to be out of work. He’ll have to sell Amway or work at The Gap or something to make ends meet.

I weep…yea, verily, I weep.

Sudiegirl the distressed
(and my bosom is heaving in time with my tears, believe me.)

PS: If you ever want a good laugh, pick up one of these bodice buster romance novels at a used bookstore, then read romantic passages in a silly accent. My favorite accent to use is a “hillbilly/trailer trash” accent. Works every time.