Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In which Maria gets up on her soapbox

Because I'm such a Kitty (and if you don't know what that means, then you need to take my Which Bunco Babe are you? quiz. Now. But I digress)...Because I'm such a Kitty, I hardly ever make waves. I just don't like to stir the pot, so to speak, but this has been weighing on my mind for some time now. I want to talk about those persons who will pick up a book and then blast said book because of a) the language and or, b) the sex. Now, this is America, and people are free to do what they want. Which means I can also write this post:)

Maybe books should be like movies and come with ratings. I think that would solve a lot of problems. But unfortunately, they don't. Sometimes, you pick up a book with one expectation, and what you get is something altogether different.

Take "The Time Traveler's Wife" for instance. *spoiler* Here's a book with lots of sex, lots of profanity, and a few strange scenes (Henry's masturbation) thrown in for good measure. I will say that that masturbation scene threw me a bit, but I kept reading. Not so much because I loved Henry (I found him to be extremely selfish, but also extremely compelling) but because the writing was just so damn good and I had to find out what happened at the end of the story. That said, out of curiosity, I went to some review sites and read what people had to say about the book. Not surprisingly, there were as many 1 and 2 star reviews as there were 4 and 5 star reviews. Big books are like that. The more people that read a book, the more all over the spectrum the reviews are. But what surprised me is the frequency in which some of the 1 star reviews called the author out for excessive, offensive sex and profanity. I don't know about you, but if I pick up a book and it offends me, I stop reading it. Life is too short to do something that a) I don't want to do if I don't have to, and b) makes me uncomfortable/squirmy.

So let's go to what I really want to say here. If you pick up a book that's been labeled erotica or Christian literature, then you know what you're going to get. But what about all those books in between? Namely, the genre most dear to my heart: chick lit/women's fiction. From my own personal experience (and I haven't gotten a 1 star review yet, but I will welcome it if it means that lots of people are reading my books!) I've come across people who have told me that they are *shocked* by the sex in my book. These are people who know me, so I have to wonder how well they really know me if they are that shocked, but for a long time now, if anyone has asked me to describe my books I say it's "Bunco meets Sex and the City." And that pretty much takes care of that. And honestly, there's not that much sex in the books. Really. And the few scenes that are there, I think are pretty funny, or at least they are to me, but I'll stop right here, because that's not what I want this post to be about.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that stories are about real people. And real people (especially single men and women in their 20's and 30's and beyond) have sex, occasionally cuss and do other assorted things/behaviors that you'd find in any movie/TV series out there. Here's another big shocker: Teenagers also have sex and use profanity! Pretty much with the exclusion of fiction that's been labeled "Christian" I would expect to find a little or a lot of all that in a book that focuses on male/female relationships. Now, let me scoot back a bit more and say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Christian literature. There's a market for it and most of it, is, I'm sure, wonderful reading. I myself, am a Christian, I just don't happen to write Christian fiction. I write the kind of books I want to read, because if I don't love my own books then why should anyone else? So, for future reference, let me just say that all my books are going to be rated R. Pretty simple way to solve the problem, huh?


Kate Pearce said...

Great minds think alike, Maria! I was over at amazon checking out my reviews, (as you do LOL) & saw that someone had given me horrible reviews for the first 2 Simply's because they were too kinky and full of they are kinky and full of sex-I write erotic romance-which it says very clearly on the back of the book. Why chose to read them and then lambaste them for being what they are? I don't get it either...

Maria Geraci said...

I really think we should a rating system like I suggested!

Marilyn Brant said...

Ohhhh, Maria. First, let me say, "I adore you." And, then, "Can you please STAY on that soapbox?!" :)

Yes, we seriously need a rating system. Or even just a little box on the back cover of the book that says things like:
Adult language
Use of alcohol, etc.

In my mind, I've been writing a blog post called "Warning Label" for the past 2 weeks. I'll probably type it up soon because, well, my reviews have been very interesting...and I feel as though I ought to, quite literally, warn potential readers that a book involving Jane Austen does not necessarily mean Regency-era sexual restraint. Perhaps what I need to do is simply direct readers here to your well-written soapbox rant and tell them, "Listen to HER!!"

Yep. That's what I'll do... :)

Maria Geraci said...

I really do think this rating system has some merit! A friend of mine bought a few copies of my book and then told me she was giving one of the copies to her grandmother. Now, my own mother loves my books (of course!) and age has nothing to do with personal preference, but I did *warn* my friend and gave the "Bunco meets Sex in the City" label. To which she smiled and went "oh!"

Later, she told me loved my book, but was glad that she didn't give it to her grandmother b/c she didn't watch movies with even PG 13ratings, so she probably wouldn't have liked my book so much;)

Maureen McGowan said...

I'd be for this as long as the writers get to do the ratings themselves. Or maybe in conjuction with their publishers. Like you have here. Declare yourself an R. I'm an R, too. Except for the YA I'm currently working on. It's PG, maybe even G.

But ratings systems applied from the outside always seem to end up arbitrary and often end up amounting to censorship. (He can touch her breast but not her hoo-ha, or you get a certain rating, and then certain stores won't stock the books if it has a certain rating...) That's what happens in the movie industry now.

I get irked by the small mindedness of people who give a book a bad review because it used "bad words" or a character behaved in a way the reader didn't approve of. It's fiction, people!

Great post, Maria!

Maria Geraci said...

Thanks, Maureen:)

I agree. I would hate to be "rated" by an outside source.


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