Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Post in Which I Become Exasperated with Book Critics

I've recently read some heavy-handed criticism of the Twilight series, and I've got to say, LIGHTEN UP ALREADY. I don't think anyone considers Twilight great literature. A vampire love affair is plainly a lightweight topic useful for entertainment purposes only. And if these books entertain you, read on. If not, choose something else. A Salon writer is convinced, though, that adult women who read Twilight are somehow obsessed with high school, still wishing the cute boy from the cool crowd (no pun intended) chose them all those years ago. And that the message in the Twilight books is as harmful as pornography and subversive to women's rights.

I don't agree. First, it's possible to enjoy a book without wanting to be the main character. Take, for example, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, where the protagonist is the victim of a horrible crime. The book is good and imaginative, the writing is strong, but there's no earthly way you want to be that main character. Second, Twilight is a romance novel. I'm going to take a risk in spilling the beans here, but in romance novels, the romance is idealized. If you can't separate idealized romance from reality, you'd better move directly to a dry diet of nonfiction and documentaries (bypassing Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights and all that). Third, that Stephanie Meyer apparently is pro-life and committed to sex in marriage doesn't make her part of an evil plot to destroy women's rights. She's saying what she thinks (we're allowed to do that, right?). If you don't agree, respect those differences, and move on. Believe me, Twilight isn't a particularly compelling piece of argument. I don't think undecided minds are going to be persuaded one way or the other.

I enjoyed Twilight as a light read about an impossible romance, just like I enjoy a donut every once in while. It doesn't mean they're good as a steady diet, but on an occasional basis, they're fine. Why engage in a harangue on how silly Twilight is? Romance novels ARE silly. The analysis brought to bear on Stephanie Meyer's novels is unnecessary except as a means to justify a book critic's paycheck. Focus instead on something that matters. Universal health care. War between Russia and Georgia. Homelessness. Poverty. The lack of civilized discourse in this country. Or maybe just good literature.

But denouncing a romance novel as a threat to women everywhere?

Oh, come ON.


Her Bad Mother said...

Ha! TOTALLY agree! (Followed you from your comment on my post at MamaPop...)

Janssen said...

Amen! AMEN!

When did book reading start needing to be all serious all the time?