A Weekly Offering of This n That

Rainy Day is my alter ego. She is the little angel that sits on one shoulder and whispers in my ear to forgo that 6" piece of triple chocolate fudge with the four scoops of ice cream on it; she is also the little devil who sits on my other shoulder and convinces me that I can eat just one bite of each and be satisfied, and then laughs with such great abandon when in fact, I eat the whole thing, she falls off my shoulder. Mostly, Rainy Day helps me see the humor in living and, mostly, she encourages me down the right path. Not necessarily the straight and narrow one (how fun is that?) but the path that offers the most adventure and fun.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rainy Day and the Ghettos

Alma Alexander  photo by: Jerry Kindall
While reading A Writer's Blog – Shoes & Ships & Sealing Wax by Alma Alexander, Rainy Day was introduced to the concept of Genre as Ghetto. ("The Fantasy Ghetto of your Dream," pages 82 – 86.)

Rainy Day does not approve of Ghettos, or Hoods, or Barrios, or whatever you call them, but they exist; and, she has discovered they often exist because people choose to live around people of like culture, beliefs, and grocery preferences. That's fine by Rainy Day, as long as those folks live there because they want to, not because someone decided they should live there.

But Alma Alexander was talking about another type of ghetto. The Ghetto of Genre, and it's found on the shelves of bookstores – assuming you can still find a bookstore. That particular ghetto is also found on the shelves of libraries (wherever they still might exist) and even on the 'shelves' of the World Wide Web (such as Amazon.com or Smashwords.com).
The trouble with Genre Ghettos is the books don't always end up where they should (or at the least, where Rainy Day thinks they should); sometimes they end up in the 'wrong' Ghetto. Sometimes books are 'cross-genre' and can reside comfortably in, say, two or more Ghettos. Case in point, when the fourth book of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, Drums of Autumn, came out Rainy Day and her Sister headed to the nearest bookstore. They walked up and down every aisle in the store except one. They searched Adventure, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, Mainstream, and finally, in utter defeat, they got on their knees and crawled to the Clerk of the Store. They abjectly apologized for being so ignorant as to not know where the book might be and begged the woman to please tell them.  The Clerk of the Store looked at them as if they were too illiterate to be in a bookstore, let alone in the human race. With total disgust in her voice, she informed them it was in the Romance Section, and where else, she wondered, would it be? (Remember that aisle they didn't go down? Romance!) Sister and Rainy Day looked at each other and burst into great peals of laughter as they tried to explain to the Clerk of the Store they never, ever read Romance; however, in this case they would make an exception. Needless to say, neither Rainy Day nor Sister ever set foot in that particular bookstore again.

Book Cover
Alma Alexander's book, Secrets of the Jin Shei was another one of those books, though Rainy Day didn't find it in Romance (thankfully). She stumbled across it the first time in the Library on the New Fiction shelf. Later, she found it in the bookstore, under Mainstream. This puzzled Rainy Day somewhat, because clearly it was Historical Fantasy. But who is Rainy Day to argue with a Publisher? However, she wonders upon occasion, how many other good books she's missed because the Publisher coded it for the 'wrong' Genre Ghetto? (Publisher, if you're confused, you only have to ask the Author--or call Rainy Day.)

Many Science Fiction and Fantasy books (Rainy Day's favorite fiction Genre) are also crossover Genre's with Horror. Now, Rainy Day wouldn't be caught dead reading a Horror book. In the first place Rainy Day lives alone, and therefore sleeps alone, and she doesn't like nightmares, which Horror books are prone to give her. So she never, ever, goes into the Horror Ghetto. Never. Ever. However, a good friend suggested she read Blood of the Lamb by Thomas Monteleone, and Rainy Day found it on the local drug store's spinner rack. So she bought it. Then she spent the next few hours reading it from cover to cover. In one sitting; without even one cup of coffee. Can you imagine Rainy Day's surprise, no, her shock! when she finished the book, closed it, and noticed it was coded as a Horror book. So, okay, Rainy Day never, ever, looks for books in the Horror Ghetto, but now and then.... And, yes, it is one of the best fiction books Rainy Day has ever read!

Which brings her back to Ghettos. Sometimes they can help one find the right book – or grocery store. Sometimes even the right Place of Worship. While Rainy Day would never suggest a person live in a particular place because of the way that person looks, dresses, or speaks, Rainy Day can understand why one might choose to do so. And while the Publisher might code a book a certain way, Rainy Day suggests when you browse those bookshelves – both real and virtual – you also check out some of the nearby shelves. You just might be in for a treat!

Note: The two photos in this post were furnished by Alma Alexander, and are used with her permission. (Well, Doh! Rainy Day thinks it's obvious that if Alma Alexander furnished the photos, they would be used with her permission. However, Rainy Day thinks disclaimers are, if not legally required, at least fun to write.)

What are your thoughts?

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