1. Links of interest (It turns out I can live without Twitter longer than I can live without my Google reader). Keep in mind, I make no pretense of being “newsy”, so some of these are pretty stale in blog years.
Laura Vivanco gets interviewed for a fantastic piece on romance by the Yale Herald (why does a student newspaper succeed where so many major media outlets fail?), and offers a sharp critique of the Carroll article I mentioned last week at Teach Me Tonight.
Carolyn Crane is a member of the League of Reluctant Adults and she is exposing their secrets!!!
Why Are there No Fat Vampires? from Womanist Musings.
“Can Authors Balance Privacy and Publicity in the Internet Era? at Nathan Bransford — read it for the comments. And Magdalen talking about the same thing on the very same day.
“The Adulterous Wife”, Toril Moi’s negative review of the highly anticipated new Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier translation of The Second Sex in the LRB. Moi’s piece isn’t just a review but a fascinating comparison between the two translations and meditation on the problems of translation.
Is it possible to be compromised, even corrupted, by what we write and read and teach, and by how we write, read, and teach it?
In “What’s Up With All the Romances?” the Witchy Chicks ask why romances get all the shelf space in the supermarket, Walmart and even bookstore. Something I’d never considered, so used I am to thinking of romance as the underdog.
AnimeJune’s Instant Classic, “How to Exploit the Dead For Fun and Profit” criticizes the trend of new paranormal twists on old favorites novels.
Author Emily Bryan is continuing her series Regency Men Undressed, and she’s down to the underthings.
Harlequin Spice author Victoria Janssen’s blog had its first birthday Friday. Happy Anniversary, Victoria!
Janicu is offering helpful advice about BEA and the Book Bloggers’ Convention, talking about bookish spots in NYC to visit and admire.
A number of personal posts floated my boat these past days:
Harlequin Presents author Kate Hewitt talks about the personal memories that inspired The Greek Tycoon’s Reluctant Bride. It turns out Ms. Hewitt, whose married name is Mrs. Thermopolous, IS the reluctant bride of a Greek Tycoon. Kidding!
Mandi of Smexy Books told her tale of true love over at Fiction Vixen. It’s very funny!
2. Flurry of Posts on the In Crowd … Katiebabs and then Karen Scott and then Mrs. Giggles posted on the question of an “in crowd” in romance blogging. Sarah Tanner followed up with the question of bloggers responding to comments. Everyone else has put their own spin on it. Here’s mine.
For me, the fact that blogging has made me feel like part of a community is one of the most surprising things about it. (The other surprising thing is that I am developing a research interest in popular romance scholarship. This is a bit afield of the biomedical ethics I have been working on the past several years, but I’ve hatched a scheme to connect vampire romance to bioethics in a totally unexpected and bloody way). I wonder sometimes if one of the needs Romland meets for me is to seem to have a group of girlfriends — not couples friends, and not colleague friends, — in a way I really haven’t since I was an undergraduate. It’s fun.
As for being snubbed, I guess my feeling is you can’t make people notice you or admire you or like you. The other side is that they can’t demand it of you either, which is a big relief, to me at least. We all owe each other a basic level of respect if we cross cyberpaths (though we can and do argue about what that entails in specific cases), but beyond that, nada.
Of course, sometimes we won’t get that respect, and sometimes we’ll fail to give it. We’re human beings, some of us humaner than others. This is where the thick skin is so important, even more online than in real life, for obvious reasons.
I was surprised how quickly Katiebabs’ post turned, on Karen’s blog, into a discussion of DA and SBTB, because to be honest, I don’t think big blogs have any sort of monopoly on in-group formation. I mean, you have the Katiebabs/Book Smugglers/AnimeJune Clique (SBAK). Don’t think it’s a clique? Fine. When’s the last time Ana invited you to her place in the UK? And how about those SoCal bloggers? It’s so exclusive I would have to move 3000 miles to join it!! Then there’s the m/m clique — you know who you are. There’s the SPRS Mafia (led by SarahF. and Eric, but An Goris is the Enforcer). And Kristie(j)’s clique is so exclusive no one even KNOWS who is in it.
So it was a bit of a non sequitur to me at first that the discussion went to the long thread at Karen’s about DA and SBTB. My theory is that people trying to make sense of what it means for there to be leaders in the Romanceland community. When I post on something, my few hundred readers, which includes few if any people of influence or standing in the industry, assume it is some random woman’s opinion. When someone at DA or SBTB post, their thousands of readers — which include many influential people in the romance and book publishing industries — assume it is a representative opinion. There’s a difference. The level of sophistication about the industry, the influence, the connectedness, and the visibility beyond the Romland blogosphere of SBTB and DA and others seems new (and I argued it is here). So people are going to talk about them. Like I am doing right now.
I have nothing helpful to actually say about it, but those questions are more intriguing to me than in-groups, which are like the weather — unpredictable, impossible to control, and boring to talk about.
3. What I’m teaching this week (sort of a mini rant)
I’ve mentioned on the blog that most everything I teach and everything I do in my consulting work is very controversial and fraught. Here’s an experiment in talking a little about one of those things on the blog.
We’re finishing an abortion unit in one class. The textbook has one article from a feminist perspective, and it’s by a “pro-life feminist”. By my lights, a feminist perspective has to acknowledge the gendered nature of the issue, the fact that only women become pregnant and bear children, that in most societies the burden of early child care falls disproportionately on women (whether in unpaid or low paid domestic labor), that women’s status as feminine is linked with their status as mothers in a different way than men’s status as masculine is linked with their status as fathers, and that there is gender injustice in most societies. There are lots of pro-choice arguments in favor of abortion that aren’t feminist and I teach at least two of them. I think the feminist pro-choice point of view is so important that I assign an article on e-reserve, but it boggles the mind that I have to do this.
But back to the pro-life feminist piece. I am happy to teach a good anti-choice article from a feminist, just as I teach a range of other anti-choice essays, but I have never found one. The “feminist pro-life” essay in the textbook is so riddled with falsehoods (recycling pro-life movement myths about “post abortion syndrome”, and links between abortions and cancer, for example) and lapses in logic (i.e. that recognizing that we should support women who choose to bring unexpected pregnancies to term with public funds if necessary somehow implies we should prevent those who choose to abort from doing so; or that, because 19th century feminists were pro-life, so should 21st century feminists be.) that I have to ask myself whether my rationale that it is a useful way to explore commonly held falsehoods and faulty arguments is strong enough. I think it’s the last time I’ll teach that one.
I hope you had a good Valentine’s Day, if you wanted to, and I hope you successfully ignored it, if that was your desire. My husband bought me something I’ve wanted, an electric tea kettle, and made me a pot of tea. We get our tea from Upton Tea Imports. We don’t do a lot of romantic things for Valentine’s Day. We’ll have to take whatever measure of comfort we can in our phenomenal sex life. (Kidding!) (Wait… Not kidding!) (Erm. Ahem.)
Doug Fieger, lead singer of the Knack (and Jewish, I might add), the band that brought us “My Sharona”, is dead at 57.
Some of you may recall “My Sharona” from the shit 1994 film Reality Bites, starring Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder. Yours Truly remembers “My Sharona” from the 45 I bought in 1979.
As for blogging, I have lost my reviewing mojo. Yes, I wrote that snarky review on Friday, but that’s different. I have a host of half-finished reviews. I still want to read, and I still want to blog. But I hope the reviewing slump passes.
I’ll have to write a review this week for Keishon’s TBR challenge. My book is Kathleen O’Reilly’s first (I think) book, a 2001 Jove historical called Touched by Fire starring the challenge’s February theme, a virgin hero.
I am running a contest. Winner can choose four books from a selection. But you have to write a purple prose paragraph to enter. Warning: the thread is already a brain bleeder.