I’m in this strange situation of not wanting to offend anyone by getting all gobby and opinionated about something so completely subjective, but knowing that offence is probably unavoidable if I want to be honest about my personal feelings on it all. The problem is this: I get a lot of people on Goodreads and Facebook and in RL giving me recommendations for books that I find completely loathsome when I try to read. Even people who know me really well do it quite a lot. “I thought so much of you when I read this book! I really think you’re going to LOVE it!” and then it turns out to be a pile of puke with terrible dialogue and flawless sex with self-lubricating bumholes and magical willies that never droop or bend in a funny direction. I think maybe I’m just not suited to romance, as a reader more than a writer – because yeah I’m a total hypocrite with this, there’s plenty of laughable mush and under-lubed orifices in SS and in my novel-in-progress. I know it’s all completely dependent on taste and we all have different ideas of what’s hot or cute or worthy of our time, and what’s unimportant enough to be handwaved away in favour of pacing over realism. I’m just finding more and more that when it comes to romance, my taste doesn’t seem to be like anybody else’s except maybe JTF’s. I don’t want to read about broodingly handsome permatanned male model types with concrete abs and perfect white teeth. It bores me stupid. I don’t want to read about guys declaring their deep and endless love with dialogue that wouldn’t pass the editing stage of a daytime soap opera. Maybe I’m just getting really horrible recs, I don’t know :P
So this is what I’m on the lookout for now: stories with decent plots and background romance, starring, as JTF put it, actual realistic protagonists without six packs, called Dave. Dudes with paunchy bellies who fart a bit too often and amuse themselves far too much and get their pillows stuck to their own faces with drool overnight and feel a bit embarrassed at having to show too much affection to anyone and go out with their mates and have this whole life and set of interests completely unrelated to the ~drama~ of being gay. Where are the epic detailed crime thrillers starring brilliant detectives who just happen to be into their own gender? I suppose what I’m looking for isn’t romance at all, now I’m thinking about it. I just want good writing and solid stories that show some diversity without making a huge song and dance about it. So many romance books (mine included I know I know) have these flimsy plots and end up relying on lazy instant pathos tricks like virulent homophobia (which, thank the stars, is becoming increasingly rare in RL), and it’s just not doing it for me any more. There are only so many times you can read “that bit went in that hole, and they all lived happily ever after” before it gets so old. I don’t want escapism and daydreams and Ken doll perfection. I only ever want to read about people who feel real. There must be writers several billion times more skilled than I am who feel the same and get it done. WHERE ARE THEY HIDING? Where is the literary/genre fiction about gay characters whose orientation is about as important to the story as their hair colour? Does this even exist? Because I feel like if someone recommends one more book that includes dialogue a fourteen year old fanfic writer would be embarrassed to put her pseudonym to, I might vomit.
There should be a punctuation mark for “totally tongue in cheek I swear (but I seriously mean it stop this shit immediately)”.