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Sep. 21st, 2005

A while ago when I was up in da nortwoods visiting my mom, she gave me a bunch of paperback books that she had finished reading. I didn't pay much attention to them-- I saw a John Grisham novel from a few years ago in the pile, so I figured it was more of the same.

Well, periodically I will pick up a book to read in the bathroom (it sems to be the only time I get a chance to read anymore), and I've been slowly going through the pile.

Yesterday I realized that the last two books are romance novels.

I've started to read one of them. I figured I'd at least give it a shot.

I may choke on my own vomit.

The book is written from the viewpoint of a mid-30's divorced woman with a teenage son. She's having a crisis (of course) in her life because it's been three years since her divorce and she still can't get over it. And I can get that.

But over the course of the first couple of chapters, her character has come to annoy the shit out of me:

1.) The reason that she got the divorce was that her husband had an affair, and she "just couldn't get past his infidelity", even with counseling. The description of the affair was that he had met a woman through work, and over the course of several months got to like her, and ended up with a one-time fling in a hotel room. Yet she is still maudlin over "losing" him, and can't get past it.
Really there is a whole passive-aggressive riff in the way that she deals with her ex-husband that I find infuriating.

2.) Her boss is also her best friend, and invites her to a beach hangout for a vacation. Her boss/friend is trying to get her to break out of her maudlin self and get to dating again, and they talk about what she's looking for in a man.

The first thing is that he must be handsome.
The second thing is that he must be "caring" enough to let her know that she is the most important thing in his life every day.
The third thing is that he must love her son as if he were his own.

Yet when she runs into a man who flirts with her on the beach, the fact that he has a couple of kids of his own automatically puts him in the rejection pile.

3.) She had tried dating since the divorce, but she had a date with one guy who when he found out that she had a teenage son basically said "no, I don't want to be a father figure". She was so traumatized by this that she stopped dating entirely. Her boss's response:

"Some men are just assholes."

In the immortal words of Josh Scrimshaw: Fuuu-u-u-uck you.

Okay, I'm thinking that this book was written in another era, perhaps from the mid-70's or early 80's. Nope: 1997.

To me, she comes off as being high maintenance and needy, self-centered, passive-aggressive, and a bit shallow. And her job is writing a freaking newspaper column on love & family issues.

I'd like to think that as the book progresses, her character grows and becomes stronger and more centered. However, being a romance novel, I suspect that she will find a man who fulfills all of her dreams perfectly and she will live happily ever after.

And I thought Lord of the Rings was fantasy.

I think I should make a movie about a woman who pines for the perfect man, yet keeps dating assholes.

Her best friend is a man who she absolutely loves, who treats her with respect and admiration, and who she keeps coming back to time after time when the assholes she dates keep breaking her heart.

After the umpteenth time of this, she tells him that she wants to find a guy exactly like him, except good-looking.

Then he blows her head off with a shotgun.

Maybe I'm just cynical.

Then again, maybe it's a good thing that I'm not dating.



( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 21st, 2005 03:38 pm (UTC)
Or perhaps a live hand grenade. I haven't decided yet.
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 21st, 2005 04:25 pm (UTC)
That's like getting the box of Cracker Jacks and discovering that your toy suprise is a booklet on STDs.

I need catharsis!!
Sep. 21st, 2005 03:39 pm (UTC)
The fact you're identifying bad behaviors in romance novels means you're probably more sane than you think.

My personal feelings about romance novels is that they are self-indulgent drivel that perpetuates and apologizes manipulative and shallow behavior in women.

The sex scenes aren't sexy, either.
Sep. 21st, 2005 03:45 pm (UTC)
Oh god, there's sex in these things?

My brain will explode.
Sep. 21st, 2005 03:58 pm (UTC)
Yes, yes it will. It sounds like this one's set in a more modern time, so you won't get such euphemistic gems as "purple-headed love warrior," but I do hope you get some other good non-sexy terms.
Sep. 21st, 2005 04:23 pm (UTC)
"purple-headed love warrior"

Boy, do I feel inadequate...
Sep. 21st, 2005 03:40 pm (UTC)
You have GOT to make that movie.
Sep. 21st, 2005 03:46 pm (UTC)
Bazooka. Or perhaps anti-tank weapon.

Thermonuclear device is probably overkill.
Sep. 21st, 2005 03:57 pm (UTC)
A guy I know at work has an anti-tank weapon we could borrow. I guess his aunt was in Desert Storm or something.

Too bad it's not loaded.

Sep. 21st, 2005 04:25 pm (UTC)
That can be remedied.
Sep. 21st, 2005 09:21 pm (UTC)
As a testament to your character, the writer didn't write that book for you.
I have read exactly one romance novel in my lifetime and it was pretty crappy. It was a "Harlequin Romance", so unfortunately it didn't even have any good sex scenes in it. I've read excerpts in SPY Magazine and I think "Man fruit" is my favorite euphemisim. I'll find that issue and maybe post the list someday soon. ;)

But, I digress...

The main character will end up with the other main character. There, now I've summarized the book enough so that you can stop reading if you want.

The (female) main character is supposed to be someone that the reader will identify with. Because you are not a vapid, manipulative, passive-agressive, whiny, high-maintenance divorced woman, you're just not going to feel it. Count yourself lucky.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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