Escape to Uncertainty

The New York Times reports on the boom in the sales of romance novels brought about by the recession (“Recession Fuels Readers’ Escapist Urges”), but the newspaper doesn’t both to read any of them. Meanwhile, Meghan Daum over at the LA Times does read them, and while she accepts the widely-held belief that romance novels are a form of escapism, she goes on to suggest that the genre also furtively confronts our current economic troubles:

In most of these novels, the heroine is in a position of not really
being able to trust the intentions of her love (or lust) object. And
although she desperately wants a happily-ever-after with a
cardiologist/secretly wealthy ranch hand/oil tycoon/Ralph Fiennes, she
can’t shake her fear that she’s being lied to. And yet she also can’t
allow herself to believe that her spicy encounters are anything more
than a house of cards that will eventually leave her destitute and

You don’t have to like romance novels — or even
cardiologists or ranch hands — to know what that kind of uncertainty
feels like. All you have to do is follow the financial news.

Daum also can’t resist noting that condom sales have risen sharply over the past few months.


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