Alex Gabriel

Writer. Reader. Romancer.


1 Comment

Bewildering Plots: The Secret Coolness of Lost Lovers

Several bestselling books in recent years have featured the protagonist looking into the mysterious death of a loved one, and discovering that their beloved was leading a secret life as – say – a heroic amnesiac assassin, or infamous pop star art thief, or celebrated grave-robbing archeologist. When they weren’t with the protagonist, they were actually out saving the world with their metal arm (or making youths faint in rapture while making off with priceless treasures, or sexily wielding a bullwhip while breaking into the tombs of dead kings… whatever), and were even more amazing and wonderful than the protagonist ever suspected.

love-in-a-cage-515682These books have made me stand in a number of bookstores in complete, befuddled lack of comprehension. My theory is that the interest of these stories lies in puzzling out an intriguing mystery, and perhaps – to some extent – in learning to live with loss while keeping the love alive. But this is a wild guess, because the truth is that I do not understand. At all.

This is basically a love story where one of the lovers is already gone forever, right? It’s about losing someone you love, and then discovering you never really knew them at all. You loved them, sure, but you never knew and loved them as completely as you would have wished to know and love them. And now it’s too late.

No. Just, no. Have I mentioned no?

It’s no better when the dead loved one is a sibling, or parent, or whatever. (It IS better when the person who died turns out to have been a villain all along, because that’s a different kind of tale altogether.)

I think every reader has certain plots that just don’t work for them. I’ve found that this is one of mine.

Maybe someone who does like this kind of plot can explain the attraction to me someday.

Do you like this kind of plot – and if so, what is it that attracts you? What kinds of plot don’t work for you?

Advertisements


2 Comments

On the love of narrative clichés

I have a confession to make: I love narrative clichés. Not all of them, of course, but certain well-used plot ideas get me interested every time. Undercover in a gay bar, pretending to be a couple, amnesia, enemies forced to work together – yes! Sign me up!

Sure, these plots have been done many times before. But the same is true of every plot; after thousands of years of fiction being created all over the world, there isn’t a single plot or theme that hasn’t been put through its paces in countless different ways.

The magic is in the details. Originality is in the writing. It’s in the storytelling, the specific set of characters, the way they meet the challenges that confront them, how the author uses familiar themes in fresh ways and plays with existing conventions. I’ve read absolutely amazing, fresh and original books built around a basic premise that sounds tired and worn.

Given my love of narrative clichés, writing “First Contact” was an act of pure self-indulgence. Cops undercover as a couple in a gay bar (okay, a bdsm club run by the mafia – but that’s details)… 😉

Do you love any narrative clichés? Tell me about it!


Leave a comment

Meta Rec: The Rape of James Bond

“The Rape of James Bond. On Sexual Assault, and ‘Realism’ in Popular Culture” by Sophia McDougall is a very interesting essay on the way rape is treated as a subject in fiction.

McDougall makes several excellent points about the fact that fictional rape is frequently treated as an expected part of “realistic” scenarios… but only when it happens to women. While fictional rape is commonplace for female characters, the rape of male characters – particularly traditionally masculine protagonists – is all but entirely unheard of. Despite the fact that it, too, would be more “realistic” under the circumstances these characters often find themselves in.

My summary does not do this thought-provoking essay justice, so I will hold my tongue and let you go read it for yourselves.