Monday, September 25, 2006

Can men write romantic novels?

Can men write romantic novels?

A week or so ago I posted a brief item on the question.

Recently, two Telegraph writers faced off on the issue.

Liz Hunt says men cannot write romantic fiction:

You see, too often male writers get caught up in the story – "Events, dear boy, events" – whereas women writers better understand that they must keep the romance central, that it drives a narrative better and faster than any other device. For women, it is the ultimate reason to turn a page.

The Da Vinci Code, though thinly written (by a man), was attention-grabbing enough with its mutilated curator and self-flagellating albino monk, but I persevered with it because – I'm ashamed to admit – I was curious to find out what would happen between the hero Robert Langdon and his sidekick Sophie Neveu.

And, yes, of course, the fall of Atlanta was an interesting peripheral happening in Gone With the Wind. But my 15-year-old self wasn't interested in the historical context, I just wanted to know if Scarlett would ever understand that Rhett was the only man who understood her and truly loved her and therefore should not possibly be passed over in favour of weedy Ashley Wilkes.

Ray Connolly says of course men can write romantic fiction:
It seems to me that we're all romantics, and the idea that one sex is simply emotionally incapable of understanding the way the other thinks is to deny everything men and women share – and, worryingly from a creative point of view, to deny all authors the possibility of understanding anyone of the opposite sex. And I can't believe that.
In related news, back in April I ruminated on "boy books" and "girl books."

And in this post, the novelist Marcus Sakey speculates on the balance of male and female writers on his bookshelf.

--Marshal Zeringue