The Misery of Harlequin Romance Novels

You can find them blatantly flaunting themselves in the aisles of bookstores, Wall-Mart, Target, airports and any other place that sell books; people nearly kissing and the author’s name in some incredibly large print that attracts the eyes of sexually deprived mothers in their forties; as students of literature, we scoff at these no-conflict, smut filled books we consider to be fake fiction like scholars who believe the fantasy genre isn’t worth looking into. What if I told you these books comprise of almost 55% of book sales a year? Clearly, no matter how much we scoff at the idea of harlequin romances filled with Victorian prostitutes or renegade cowboys, they make more money than we could dream of.

The harlequin romance novels appeal to the fantasy of many women and even men. E.L James’s Fifty Shades of Grey series is in every house wife’s has cupboard (secretly hidden in the case of the Southern Belles). However, these books make so much money in the literary world it’s hard for us to even comprehend bowing to the demands of the public to write something we find mundane. Yet against all our moral fibers, who couldn’t be tempted to write these types of novels for the hopes of making big money? Beware there are dangers in writing harlequin romance that Stephen King warned us about decades ago.

If you haven’t read Stephen King’s Misery or if you haven’t seen the movie starring James Caan and Kathy Bates you need to before deciding to join the crowd of harlequin novelist. The dangers are greater than being exiled from your own country like Salaman Rushdie. Crazed stalkers and people obsessing over you can become a major factor.

Misery focuses on a harlequin writer who wreaks his car in a snowstorm to be saved by a woman. Upon waking, he finds himself in a house and his legs shattered and everything that can go wrong does. His rescuer is his number one fan; and happens to be obsessed to the point of craziness (Kathy Bates was nominated for an Oscar for her role of Annie, the crazed obsessed woman). I won’t spoil the ending or the gruesome tortures our poor harlequin writer is exposed to but let’s say any time I think of submitting myself to the covers of people almost kissing I imagine Kathy Bates standing over my bed saying “You dirty, dirty bird you.”

Before laughing, think of it. People go overboard trying to get something they crave like a heroin addict craves more heroin, a pot smoker craves food after a bowl. Sexual Fantasy is being played to the public and they are feeding it through these romance novels. It’s like tween’s obsessing over Justin Bieber or One Direction; it just doesn’t end well. Becoming a celebrity of this sort can only lead to some Kathy Bate looking stalker trying to kill you for ending a series. Like an occult, or Hotel California, once you start the world of harlequin romance novels you never leave until you die. So before caving to try and make some big bucks, make sure to watch or read Stephen King’s Misery. You will change your mind for good.

– Brittany Marcum

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