Saturday, February 12, 2005

No, no! Don't say it! (Too late.)

My freshly-shaved husband came downstairs a little while ago and informed me that he had just been listening to a National Public Radio interview with a romance novelist.

"Really?" I sat up straighter in my desk chair. "Who was it?"

"I don't remember. Somebody who's sold a lot of romance books."

Thanks, dear. That really narrows it down for me.

So I logged on to the internet and learned that the interviewee must have been Mary Bly, an English-lit professor who writes regency romance as Eloisa James. Apparently she made a double-play this morning, appearing not just in the NPR interview but on the op-ed page of today's New York Times.

My friend Booksquare will be sorry to learn that Ms. Bly ripped bodices not once but twice -- and that was just in her opening paragraph. But I liked this part, near the end:

So let's quit this out-of-date mockery of the genre. Focusing solely on the sensual content of romances and deriding them as bodice-rippers leads to the assumption that America is full of women gobbling up romance novels because they're sexually frustrated and want to be overpowered by a strong man.

Right. But I'd just like to suggest that if we want to train people to stop saying, "bodice-ripper", maybe we should stop saying it, ourselves. If I say to you, "Don't think of a red kite. Do not picture a red kite in your mind. Think about anything else, just not a red kite," what do you immediately think of?



Susan Kaye said...

Ah, Bodice Ripper is so passe. And rather tame considering the newest sub-genre of romances out there.

I blogged on Romantica last week:


Brenda Coulter said...

Whoops. My assumption that it must have been Eloisa James my husband heard on the radio this morning was incorrect. Turns out it was Carly Phillips.

You can listen to the interview here.

booksquare said...

Well, Brenda, you chose my alternate quote from article. I dithered (coffee flowing!) between that one and the one I used. Good thing!

I've had multiple conversations with Daniel Okrent and his minions at the NYT regarding the use of bodice ripper in their paper. Oddly, when they go back to the editors, it's considered an acceptable term. I'm hoping Okrent, et al read Bly's piece and start putting the pieces together.

I say that after she finishes her media blitz (or coming out party), we declare the death of the term.

Brenda Coulter said...

Booksquare, I'm afraid we might just have to wait for all those clueless people at the Times to die off before Those Horrid Words will truly be forgotten. ;-)

By the way, everybody run over to Booksquare's place and read her post about Mary Bly (finally) outing herself as a (gasp!) romance writer.

upwords said...

Actually, Brenda, it was Carly Phillips. :) I was listening to it on the way home a little bit ago. Mary Bly might have been interviewed too.

Mary G.

Kate R said...

LOL! I love that. But now I don't know if I'll have the words "bodice ripper" or "red kite" trapped in my brain!

Brenda Coulter said...

I'm desperately sorry, Kate. ;-)

Mary, I did figure out that it was Carly Phillips my husband heard on NPR. Check the second comment on this page -- I posted a link to the segment. They also interviewed Debbie Macomber.