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Hopeless romantic

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Bartle_Bull&Ana_Cristina_Alvarado.jpgI admit it: my idea of a romance novel is The Fountainhead

Which is not to say that the genre didn't once grip me.  I read Jean M. Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear when I was eight, and I was duly scandalized by her The Valley of the Horses when I was nine, and after that there was the aforementioned Fountainhead, and then my interests focused elsewhere (with a brief detour to read Bernard Cornwell's The Fallen Angel on the recommendation of a dear friend). 

I'm not judgmental about romance novels or the women who read and love them.  Rather, romance novels - along with all genre fiction - just don't ring my bell.  Genres by their nature are rules-based (whereas I believe life is random).  Genres simplify life in all its messy complexity, and somewhere in the simplification my attention wanders.

That said, I was surprised and interested to learn that there are romance novels for men.  I am aware that they're not marketed as such, but reading Bartle Bull's The White Rhino Hotel, I slowly realized that I was in possession of a genuine romance novel for men. 

The novel's hero, Anton Rider, leaves his adopted gypsy clan in England for the freedom of East Africa, where he uses his strong and luscious body to hunt, rescue friends and maidens, wrestle and fight, and pan for gold.  A virgin who is initiated into the society of the sexually active by an irresistable and insatiable older Portuguese woman, Anton is well-intentioned, uncorruptable and reticent about his machismo.  The White Rhino Hotel's meandering story line is more a series of scenarios in which Anton can pose pretty than an engine that drives a narrative.    

Of course, no reason exists why men, like women, shouldn't enjoy genre romance novels.  We all know that men - like women - enjoy looking at stylized, idealized photos of themselves (e.g., GQ, Men's Health).  But in reading The White Rhino Hotel, I learned something about myself: when it comes to men posing pretty, I prefer the photos.

If I'm going to read about men posing pretty, at least let them be pumped full of the steroids of an over-simplistic ideology masquerading as the "philosophical theory" of Objectivism. 

(Image of Bartle Bull and Ana Cristina Alvarado from New York Social Diary)

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the The Fountainhead category.

The Feast of the Goat is the previous category.

The Haunting of Hill House is the next category.



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