By the Way

Paul Tolme, the author whose words were taken verbatim by a certain romance author and used in her book has written an article for Newsweek in which he describes romance in the most pitiable and snotty of ways. The man isn’t much of a scholar if he reads one romance novel and describes an entire genre as schlock and says we have low standards.

The prose is standard romance-novel shlock. He proclaims (after reading a single romance novel). He then later says, “Wow, that is some bad dialogue. It stands out as clunky and awkward even by the standards of romance novels.” Because boys and girls, he knows what those standards are. Now in actuality, he’s right to call out that passage because what makes it so glaring is that it’s scholarly language in the midst of prose, but he can’t be satisfied with that because why pass up a chance to be all intellectual and take a swipe at the low brow, horny housewives who read and write romance? That’s like extra ego points and some people apparently need them. The ones he refers to in this passage, “I can imagine frustrated and horny readers cursing the ferrets and skipping ahead in search of the next nipple.” (By the way, these quotes can all be found in Tolme’s article which I link in the first paragraph)

Making oneself look better by sneering down your nose at another group you find beneath you is pitable, Mr. Tolme. It’s often an indicator of a person who feels lacking in some area of their life.

No one should have their work stolen from them, what happened to Tolme and the others who were plagerized was morally and literally dishonest. Sadly, I suppose you can still be a tool when you’ve been wronged. I hope your ego feels better at my and my readers expense. I’ve long since given up trying to have an intelligent conversation about romance with people like Tolme who’d prefer to characterize and sterotype us instead of oh, I don’t know, accord us some respect, the same respect he’d give anyone else. In fact, the same respect he’s been given by great percentages of our community who’ve defended him and his words.

4 comments to “By the Way”

  1. Red
    January 16th, 2008 at 7:48 pm · Link

    Amen, Lauren!

  2. JSL
    January 16th, 2008 at 11:57 pm · Link

    Hi Lauren,
    I read your post, and of course was offended, reading the quotes. I then read Paul Tolme’s article – and found myself chuckling at some parts – he is/can be witty. But, I don’t appreciate how he paints romance with such broad strokes.
    I haven’t read anything by that particular author, but I have read books where it seems the author used as many “bad words” as possible, improper sentences and I’m left wondering how the book got published.
    At the same time I just had a conversation with a friend, telling her with all the harlequin romances I’ve read (numbering in the hundreds- and being *the* quintessential “trashy romance novel”) I’ve only ever read one or two that made me want to poke my eyes out, and generally enjoyed the rest.
    It’s upsetting that most likely a vast number of people will read his article and feel justified in prefacing the entire romance genre with the word “trashy.” He also does get really snarky. Blech.

  3. Bernadette Gardner
    January 17th, 2008 at 6:03 am · Link

    I have to agree with you Lauren. I know a lot of people found the article amusing, and I must confess, sarcasm has often been my weapon of choice when I’ve been wronged, but I lost sympathy for Mr. Tolme when he began trashing the genre as a whole. He has a right to be angry, and even a little snarky, but puts down plenty of excellent, successful authors with his ‘clever jibes.’ It will be interesting to see what he has to say for himself when the Romance Divas get a hold of him. 😉

  4. Anya Bast
    January 17th, 2008 at 6:12 am · Link

    He DID read a more “old skool” bit of romantic fiction, but that in no way excuses his slam of romance as a whole. You don’t read one book and use it to determine the merits of entire genre.

    But I don’t get upset about characterizations like these anymore. It’s just flat out ignorance and bigotry, and I have no time (and definitely no energy) for it. It does upset me when people I respect (or want to respect) can’t seem to find it in them to respect me.

    I KNOW I’m not writing anything worthy of a Pulitzer. I write purely for the entertainment of my readership. But…what’s so lowly and horrible about that?