[LMB] Re: Romance Writing

Patricia A. Swan zafaran at sff.net
Mon, 23 Dec 2002 12:05:56 -0500


At 02:45 AM 12/23/2002 -0600, Paula S. Sanch wrote:
In reply to Casey about varying education levels between SF and Romance 
readers:

>Despite your ruffled feelings, it remains true that the
>*majority* of romance readers have lower intelligence and
>education levels than the majority of SF readers.

I'd just like to add this to the discussion from the viewpoint of 
someone who *doesn't* live in an urban area like Casey, and Paula, the 
once-and-future urbanite--though where she is in Mississippi at the 
moment isn't exactly the back of beyond either.  *Which is not meant as 
a slight against EITHER lady.*

We used to own a bookstore here in Bryson City.  Now, we're tiny, 
rural, have the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state, the smallest 
tax base to support the largest per capita percentage of really poor 
folks in the state (85% of our county is federally held and doesn't 
generate taxes).

We have had teachers who seem to systematically work at producing 
non-readers through all the grades--I'm a bookaholic, yet I still won't 
touch classic American Lit after a bad HS American Lit teacher--I have 
to make notes in class, it's how I compensate for what we now know are 
learning disabilities, but this teacher forbade that, and you had to be 
still in class and only study what she passed out on ditto sheets.  I 
failed.  *badly*, and I'd *never* failed an English course.  I was so 
badly turned off I managed to finagle it that I didn't have to take the 
course matter again.  Since I was never technically a HS Senior because 
of failing American lit. (aka "Junior English") my Junior year, and I 
wasn't allowed to double up on English courses the next year, *and* 
thanks to a change to six-week mini-courses in place of monolithic 
year-long English courses that corresponded to your grade level so that 
the same course I failed was never offered again as such.  I asked if I 
could take "Senior English" (as defined by the State of North Carolina) 
in Summer school so that I could get my diploma six weeks after my 
classmates graduated and was granted my request so I didn't have to 
take another year of half-day classes just to get the one course.  So I 
retook English Lit.  Went from a B to an A and straight into an Honors 
English class at University.

All that being established.  When I was in the book trade, Mother and I 
didn't care *what* you wanted to read.  *You. Were. 
READING.*  Romances, SF, Westerns, mysteries, if you were into genre, 
New York times bestsellers in paperback if that's how your tastes ran. 
Austen, Heyer, Sayers, Melville, Sands, Shakespear, Johnson, Pepes, 
etc. A strong children's collection. Non-fiction out the wazoo. 
Greek.  Latin.  You wanted Marquis de Sade or the Story of O, we had 
copies because people wanted to read them.

You wanted a reading fix; we'd find you the book.  We worked on the 
principle of find them something they were interested in, and hopefully 
we could get them to read *more*.  We didn't care if you got them at 
the library after that, or from a friend's book case, or wherever. If 
you didn't have the money, we'd let you sit in one of our chairs and 
read it in the shop. We considered ourselves successful if you kept 
reading.  The fact that we actually made money at it was nice, too, but 
still.  We were frank bookpushers and made no bones about it, and had 
more than one fight with the censorship folks from the fundamental 
churches to prove it--and once it was because we had.....Twain's 
Huckleberry Finn.  The only time we ever burned some books was one time 
a friend swapped a box of magazines for some of books, and below the 
top layer we found some h*m*er*tic picture books. Oy.

Pat in North Carolina  <---long-time bookpusher


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* Patricia A. Swan   <*>  zafaran at dnet.net  Ebay ID:  zafaranswan  *
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