Monday, September 21, 2009

What is Sarah Wendell reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Sarah Wendell, co-author (with Candy Tan) of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels.

Her entry begins:
My reading cravings right now are for shorter-length, character-driven romance narratives with strong, autonomous protagonists and emotion-based tension in a contemporary setting. In one word: Harlequin.

People sniff at Harlequin as "dime store throwaway novels," or "bodice rippers" - both of which are such inaccurate representations I can't even begin to argue without my bosoms heaving in indignation. Harlequin, also known as category romance, is an art when it's done well, and an exercise in abdominal-exercising-hilarity when it's done silly and awful. Nora Roberts likened it to performing Swan Lake in a phone booth - and she's bang on as usual. The short length and structure of a category romance force the author to employ words that represent a lot in only a few letters. Sometimes, that's an overladen cliche that makes me giggle. Other times, it's a turn of phrase so evocative and simple, I have to read it again.

I'm craving category romances right now because...[read on]
Sarah Wendell is also known as Smart Bitch Sarah of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. The site specializes in reviewing romance novels, examining the history and future of the genre, and bemoaning the enormous prevalence of bodacious pectorals adorning male cover models.

Among the praise for Beyond Heaving Bosoms:
“Funny, irreverent, insightful and thorough, this guide zeros in on the joys and the woes of the Romance genre. Like a pair of strong heroines, Sarah and Lay Ping celebrate the virtues of their beloved, and recognize the flaws. They give the genre a passionate kiss and a kick in the ass, delivering both in delightful, readable style.”
New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts
Visit Sarah Wendell at her website and the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books website.

Writers Read: Sarah Wendell.

--Marshal Zeringue