Monday, July 18, 2016

Love and the Headless Chunky Shapeshifter in Modern 'Literature'

I'm noticing a disturbing trend in romantic fantasy literature. I call it the Headless Chunky Male Shapeshifter trend. These books can be identified by the picture on the cover of a large white man's well-built chest and no face - there being no room on the cover to waste on such a triviality. Or maybe it costs more for an artist to paint a face. Dunno.Also there is a picture in the background or the bottom-left of whatever creature the character turns into.
I subscribe to two lists of free and cheap Kindle books that arrive in my inbox daily. They know I like Fantasy literature, so this type of book is thrown into the mix.
my mother used to read novels of this ilk, except that they were all real-world stories that didn't include anything magical or paranormal- just lots of sleaze that was peddled as literature. That was before vampires and werewolves became mainstream, back when you could still consider yourself edgy for reading Anne Rice.
Maybe Anne was the one responsible for making vampires mainstream. Maybe it was the Twilight series. Maybe it's been evolving that way for some time. I remember Frank Langella climbing the wall in the 70's version of Dracula, and my 15-year-old mind and body going haywire to the point where the girls I was with asked if I was all right. Shape changers have always been sexy for me, but then I was the odd one out. I was what we would now call a "girl geek' - a title I would proudly have claimed. I didn't know the word,"Geek" then, and this was decades before the word would be claimed as a term of respect and camaraderie. I knew that a lot of boys were into Star Wars, and no girls besides me. I really didn't know anybody of either gender who was into Paranormal fiction.
Skip forward to the twenty-tens: Every mediocre writer who wants to be published is putting out a paranormal fantasy novel. Either that, or an Outland-type romance featuring time travel. Like "it worked for Twilight and Outland, so if I follow the same formula to the letter, it will work for me," kinda thing.
While I realize that mediocre copycat literature will always be with us, what bothers me most now is the way men are depicted on the covers. It's de-humanizing. It's like you're telling a story about a woman who falls in love with a bulky chest, not the man who owns it.
And what is it about a human chest that is even fascinating in a story about a shape-shifter? To me it's like, Never Mind what he looks like as a human; he can turn into a FUCKING DRAGON for gods' sake! He could be the Guy who Gets Sand Kicked in his Face at the Beach, and once he turns into a dragon, or a wolf, or a bat, he's absolutely got my attention. More so, in fact, if his human persona is one that can be easily overlooked.

Oh, that and a decent storyline that isn't constantly interrupted by pages and pages of passion and innuendo that fail to move the story forward at all. You see, I can find porn online any time. If I'm reading a book, I want the story, thank you very much.

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