Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Nature Of Romance

     I expected to get some snarky email after I posted yesterday’s bit of new fiction, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The overall thrust was “You call this romance? There isn’t even one kiss in it!”

     I can understand the dissonance...kinda-sorta, anyway. Contemporary “romances” are an intergalactic distance from what as labeled romance seven or eight decades ago. Indeed, they’re so saturated by physical eroticism that before World War II they would probably have been deemed pornography and sold from separate, “Adults Only” shelves relegated to a back room of the bookstore. I find this to be the case even with romances I enjoy from writers I admire, such as Linnea Sinclair.

     But no degree of physical eroticism is actually required in a romance. Indeed, some of the most effective, heart-rending romances are entirely devoid of it. Part of the reason I wrote “For Services Rendered” was to illustrate and dramatize that possibility.

     Every item of worthwhile fiction is an attempt by its author to evoke an emotion. Romance is of course a special case of that general law, but the emotion is not necessarily what so many think it must be. Oftentimes, it’s admiration for a grand gesture, such as Allan’s gesture in my little story.

     Saleswoman Amelie is a cynic, made that way by her upbringing, her family’s dynamics, and her supposed “look at the world through unclouded eyes.” Co-protagonist Allan is a true romantic: one who believes in the highest potentialities of Mankind, including the sort of love and devotion his unnamed wife has denied him, but which he continues to bestow upon her. Allan looks upon Amelie and sees a young woman whose cynicism has steered her toward a life of self-denial, even self-hatred: the conscious embrace of “whoredom,” of giving nothing except for payment, and only then what she “owes” according to some bargain, explicit or otherwise.

     Allan decides that a suitably grand gesture might save Amelie from herself. Being an American – we are a bit odd that way – he makes one.

     Does Allan’s grand gesture work? Does it have the desired effect upon Amelie’s convictions? I leave it for the reader to decide. The gesture is what matters.

     Just some early-Sunday-morning food for thought. I’ll be back later.


Tim Turner said...

Fran, your characters are exceptional. Even Amelie, the cynic, is exceptional in her forthrightness. But I need exceptional characters in my fiction. There's little enough of it in my day-to-day real world.

I almost always have to cross a boundary with your characters. I have to consciously push myself a little to get that "willful suspension of disbelief."

But it is always worth it! :)

ligneus said...

Lovely, lovely story, maybe I'm more of a romantic than I think.