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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, congratulations, dick. You have certainly stirred up the Forum. How great. We're not bored anymore. Very Happy
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tee wrote:
Well, congratulations, dick. You have certainly stirred up the Forum. How great. We're not bored anymore. Very Happy



LOL...I was thinking the same Tee. Not sure, but I think that may have been the plan. Smile
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Linda in sw va



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xina wrote:

LOL...I was thinking the same Tee. Not sure, but I think that may have been the plan. Smile


I'm pretty darn certain it was the plan, lol. Hey it brought out one lurker at least!

Linda
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Maggie AAR
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I see the biggest issue in m/m romance as being the fact they are written by women. These are not love stories told from a gay perspective but rather romances written by people who have never been gay. Added to that is the factor that most romance writers struggle with writing believable heroes. So I now have two unbelievable characters making up my novel. This completely stretches suspension of disbelief to me. It is essentially admitting that romances are complete fantasy and the more fantastical the fantasy the better.

For myself, that is not what I enjoy in a romance. I prefer romances that really concentrate on believable characters falling in love. Which may explain why I also don't read many books starring a gazzilionaire falling in love.

Both still qualify as romance novels. though. Just not ones I'll read.

maggie b.
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Blackjack1



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find Annie Proulx's novella, Brokeback Mountain, quite romantic and thought too that Ang Lee's film version was romantic and lovely. Proulx is a heterosexual female author writing in this instance about a gay love affair. I don't think that authors can (should?) only write about their own experiential perspectives and can instead imagine other ways of living and loving. To consign any artist to just their own limited life experiences diminishes the role of imagination, I think.

I also think that language is a fluid concept and historically dynamic rather than static. Words change meaning over time and language generally garners meaning through its social use at particular historical moments and depending on those who wield enough social power to define the meaning of a word. We live in an interesting moment where the definition of "marriage" is up for grabs. Trends seem to indicate that marriage will become more, not less, inclusive. Romance too is only in the most conventional perspective limited to heterosexual male and female relationships, but that too is changing.
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Maggie AAR
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blackjack1 wrote:
I find Annie Proulx's novella, Brokeback Mountain, quite romantic and thought too that Ang Lee's film version was romantic and lovely. Proulx is a heterosexual female author writing in this instance about a gay love affair. I don't think that authors can (should?) only write about their own experiential perspectives and can instead imagine other ways of living and loving. To consign any artist to just their own limited life experiences diminishes the role of imagination, I think.


Wasn't that an award winning literary short story?

Here we get into definitions again. I think a romance novel, which concentrates almost exclusively on the relationship, requires more personal experience to write. A general fiction novel on the other hand might simply require imagination as what is looked as is an emotion or experience and not a relationship. Brokeback didn't have an HEA and it dealt with loss, community, shame, and life decisions. Again, just my opinion but I see that as different than the HEA.

maggie b.
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know it doesn't bother me a bit that a M/M story would be written by a female author, in fact I would probably prefer it. Embarassed My favorite series outside the genre features two brothers as the main protagonists, they are written by a female and my favorite male characters written to date! lol I read romance for the heroes and they are almost always written by female authors and rarely would I say they are realistic. Maybe a hair of realism with a healthy dose of fantasy. So to have one hero or two, doesn't make a difference to me. I don't expect the romance genre to be necessarily realistic, probably why I am also a huge fan of paranormals. I read to experience outside the norm usually. I can get 'real' on any given day of my life, I want the fantasy. And do we really think the heroines in the romacne genre written by females are necessarily realistic? I'm not really seeing it, there is a lot of fantasy going on there as well.

I'm not going to claim any kind of morally superior notion of equality as to why I like the occasional M/M story, I just enjoy double the hunks. Very Happy Though outside the romance genre I support equality for gay couples so that does play into my lack of resistance I'm sure. I have no interest in a F/F story but they can be considered a romance novel as much as any other. Hey I said early on my interest was superficial. Smile A guilty pleasure.

ETA: It was Brokeback Mountain that got me started on looking for M/M stories in books, but without the sad ending. I also started by reading some M/F/M erotica and found the M/M action pretty hot. Just as I suppose a man might find two women getting it on a turn-on. *shrug*

Linda
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PWNN



Joined: 11 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There have been novels about romantic gay relationships eons before the m/m romance boom but because of the laws until the 60s and 70s most had to end tragically or sordidly. Even E.M. Foster did not feel he could publish Maurice until after his death because it had a happy ending. There have been romantic love poems and sonnets written to gay lovers even before those written by Shakespeare and Michelangelo - back to controversially the The Song Of Songs. So while m/m maybe be new gay romantic love is literature is hardly a new fangled concept.

Over the last few decades there exists gay lit with romance elements or even romance centered with a HEA. Jim Grimsely's Comfort & Joy, Steve Kluger's Almost Like Being in Love, Peter Lefcourt's The Dreyfus Affair - A Love Story and books by Michael Thomas Ford, Rob Byrnes, Michael Chabon (a straight man), Armistead Maupin, David Levithan, Christopher Rice etc.

There is a substantial male readership of m/m romance novels many of whom name books written by women as their favorites. If you want recommendations mostly from gay men I recommend the book forum on AfterElton.

In literary gay fiction Patrica Neil Warren's The Front Runner, Mary Renault's The Charioteer and Marion Zimmer Bradley The Catch Trap are three of the most highly regarded and popular books. All written by women who were lesbians. All were recommended to me by gay men as books that moved them and impacted their lives.

In addition to straight women writing romance there are also lesbian, bisexual and transgendered women who know what it is to be disenfranchised because of sexuality.

There's are also a growing amount of men writing gay romance - some of it is brutally visceral and honest, some sentimental and soppy, some fantastical and fun, some sex laden, some closed-door, some charming and funny, some bad, some good and some just beautiful written - just as it is with female writers (GLBT or straight). Also as with f/m romance there are just as man sub-genres - mysteries, thrillers, adventures, pnr, sci-fi, fantasies, historicals, contemporaries, YA etc

The #1 seller on Amazon for gay romance is currently The Nothingness Of Ben written by Brad Boney. He says the book that inspired and moved him to write a romance was Faith & Fidelity by Tere Michaels - a straight woman.

Considering as discussed earlier in this topic that female leads are usually the weakest and least interesting written characters in romances mostly written by female writers I'm not sure that writing your own gender or sexuality goes hand in hand with writing them well or truthfully. I think female characters too often being written as place holders for female readers is the chief culprit of why so many are so poor.
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LFL



Joined: 05 May 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PWNN wrote:
There have been romantic love poems and sonnets written to gay lovers even before those written by Shakespeare and Michelangelo - back to controversially the The Song Of Songs.


I don't understand this particular controversy. The Song of Songs is written in Classical Hebrew, a language where pronouns, adjectives and verbs are inflected to express gender. As a Hebrew speaker I can tell you that the grammar reveals that The Song of Songs narrator is female and the lover she is describing and talking about male. Unless the poem was altered before its inclusion in the Bible, this is one controversy I don't understand.

Now the Gilgamesh controversy is perfectly understandable to me, and Sappho's poetry was clearly written to a female lover (though I have only read these in translation). So your point about gay literature going back centuries is absolutely correct, but I'd love to know the specifics about this theory vis a vis The Song of Songs and who it was who put it forth.
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Lillian Sulivan



Joined: 05 Feb 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PWNN wrote:
Considering as discussed earlier in this topic that female leads are usually the weakest and least interesting written characters in romances mostly written by female writers...


I heard one definition of 'romance literature' some time back: the story of a man as seen through a woman's eyes. While there's a lot lacking in this definition, I think I know what the speaker was getting at.

Quote:
I think female characters too often being written as place holders for female readers...


Well, no wonder they're all so sweet, lovable. deserving and perfect!

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Lilly
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Maggie AAR
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PWNN wrote:
Considering as discussed earlier in this topic that female leads are usually the weakest and least interesting written characters in romances mostly written by female writers I'm not sure that writing your own gender or sexuality goes hand in hand with writing them well or truthfully. I think female characters too often being written as place holders for female readers is the chief culprit of why so many are so poor.


I think one of the things that make "romance novels" so tough to discuss is that readers can have vastly different experiences of the market. For example, less than 1% of the close to three hundred books I read a year
are historical romances. (FYI that is vastly different than 20 years ago (and I have been reading romance for over 30 years) when almost all my reading was historicals. ) So when I discuss romances my experiences are very different from someone who reads say 48 books a year (that is still 2 books a month and well over the national average) or even somone who reads 96 books a year (a book a week., escpecially if those ladies read primarily historical romances.

That said, my reading experience in general is not weak female leads. At least 75% of my reading is books written by women and what I run into consistently are men who behave nothing like real men. In exchange for that though, I get stellar women. Characters who are strong and resourceful and who I enjoy reading about.

So respectfully, I can't accept your premise that romance is essentially full of weak female leads, unless you are specifically referring to historicals. In which case I will admit to having no knowledge of the subject.

maggie b.
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Maggie AAR
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linda in sw va wrote:
You know it doesn't bother me a bit that a M/M story would be written by a female author, in fact I would probably prefer it. Embarassed My favorite series outside the genre features two brothers as the main protagonists, they are written by a female and my favorite male characters written to date! lol I read romance for the heroes and they are almost always written by female authors and rarely would I say they are realistic. Maybe a hair of realism with a healthy dose of fantasy. So to have one hero or two, doesn't make a difference to me. I don't expect the romance genre to be necessarily realistic, probably why I am also a huge fan of paranormals. I read to experience outside the norm usually. I can get 'real' on any given day of my life, I want the fantasy. And do we really think the heroines in the romacne genre written by females are necessarily realistic? I'm not really seeing it, there is a lot of fantasy going on there as well.

I'm not going to claim any kind of morally superior notion of equality as to why I like the occasional M/M story, I just enjoy double the hunks. Very Happy Though outside the romance genre I support equality for gay couples so that does play into my lack of resistance I'm sure. I have no interest in a F/F story but they can be considered a romance novel as much as any other. Hey I said early on my interest was superficial. Smile A guilty pleasure.

ETA: It was Brokeback Mountain that got me started on looking for M/M stories in books, but without the sad ending. I also started by reading some M/F/M erotica and found the M/M action pretty hot. Just as I suppose a man might find two women getting it on a turn-on. *shrug*

Linda


I hope my post came across as saying why *I* didn't read them. I certainly didn't mean it to come across as this is such a fatal flaw no one should read them. I have my own share of guilty pleasures (I mentioned Star Trek novels on another thread). Sometimes a type of book just doesn't work for us. Harlequin must sell a LOT of those "The Greek Millionaire Finds His Virgin Bride". They just aren't selling them to me Smile

maggie b.
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

maggie b. wrote:
[I hope my post came across as saying why *I* didn't read them. I certainly didn't mean it to come across as this is such a fatal flaw no one should read them. I have my own share of guilty pleasures (I mentioned Star Trek novels on another thread). Sometimes a type of book just doesn't work for us. Harlequin must sell a LOT of those "The Greek Millionaire Finds His Virgin Bride". They just aren't selling them to me Smile

maggie b.


Maggie, your post came across just fine, I totally got that you were stating a personal preference. No worries! Smile

I got a chuckle out of this though, I mentioned that my favorite male characters were two brothers written by a female author. Today she posted on Facebook that her name was mentioned in an article about female authors that use a male pseudonym. Her books go by Rob Thurman but her first name is really Robyn.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324355904578159453918443978.html

Linda
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Blackjack1



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@maggie b - Yes, Proulx's novella did win a literary award and wouldn't be classified as genre work. It doesn't have a conventional HEA but is still nonetheless a love story and a moving one at that. I'm actually not that well-read in any genre fiction but I loved romance writing when I was a teen, and returned to it as an adult. I teach literature for a living and so many of my perspectives come from examining fiction overall. For many centuries good writing was defined as that which was written by a male author, which is why women developed nom de plumes to find access into the literary world and to be taken seriously. I'm not comfortable therefore with the notion that only women can write romance or only gay and lesbian authors can write gay erotica or gay romance, or frankly most other "onlys". Almost anytime we create these obstacles, you'll find compelling examples of how in the right hands, good writing can tear them apart.

So, this thread began with a supposition that only heterosexual protagonists in a novel can constitute "romance." Surely that isn't the case and if it's believed to be, why wouldn't that be considered prejudicial or even homophobic thinking?
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chris booklover



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

maggie b. wrote:

I think one of the things that make "romance novels" so tough to discuss is that readers can have vastly different experiences of the market. For example, less than 1% of the close to three hundred books I read a year
are historical romances. (FYI that is vastly different than 20 years ago (and I have been reading romance for over 30 years) when almost all my reading was historicals. ) So when I discuss romances my experiences are very different from someone who reads say 48 books a year (that is still 2 books a month and well over the national average) or even somone who reads 96 books a year (a book a week., escpecially if those ladies read primarily historical romances.

That said, my reading experience in general is not weak female leads. At least 75% of my reading is books written by women and what I run into consistently are men who behave nothing like real men. In exchange for that though, I get stellar women. Characters who are strong and resourceful and who I enjoy reading about.

So respectfully, I can't accept your premise that romance is essentially full of weak female leads, unless you are specifically referring to historicals. In which case I will admit to having no knowledge of the subject.

maggie b.


I read more historical romances than any other romance genre, and I would have to say that my experience matches yours. There is a case for saying that romance heroines are often bland, but not one for claiming that in today's novels they are usually portrayed as weak, helpless damsels in distress. (For what it's worth, I don't think that PWNN was implying the latter). I can think of many heroes who are bland and generically portrayed, and some authors (including Loretta Chase and Cecilia Grant, as discussed recently in this forum) whose heroines are far more vividly drawn than their heroes. These heroines are not by any means all "sweet, lovable. deserving and perfect." There are far too many counterexamples that can be cited.

I also agree with your observation that many of the men in romance "behave nothing like real men." This applies to both m/f and m/m romances. It does not mean that it is intrinsically impossible for a writer to depict the opposite sex - many authors, both male and female, do so very successfully. The issue is that some of the conventions of the genre work against a realistic depiction of heroes. For example, they are often far more emotionally expressive, more given to lengthy and elaborate declarations of love and much less impersonal and single minded in their approach to sex than men in the real world tend to be. IMO the least plausible sub-genre in Romance is menage. I find it impossible to keep a straight face while reading menage stories. Only in Romancelandia will you find hot alpha males who are desperately and crazily in love with the heroine, would not dream of touching another woman - but are perfectly happy sharing her with their brothers or best friends. Where are their real world equivalents? Laughing

None of this means that menage - not to mention m/m or f/f stories - should not be considered romances. It's just that for any individual reader some romances work much better than do others.
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