If Blake Lively were your girlfriend, you would wake up one day to find that your bedroom was now decorated in a way that you had only ever dreamed of in your most secret heart. The duvet would be soft, the paint color soothing, and your favorite childhood stuffed animal would sit on the nightstand. You would walk into the kitchen, where Blake Lively was making you pancakes, thinking you’d ask her how this happened. But she’d serve you a pancake and you’d be so boggled to realize she’d made an exact replica of your face out of cake batter that you’d forget all about the bedroom.
If Blake Lively were your girlfriend, you’d keep a beehive on the roof. When you tended to it, you would wear skin-covering clothes, a netted hat, and long gloves. Blake Lively would wear sunglasses, a crop top, and linen shorts. “It’s cool,” she’d say. “The bees know me.” She would never get stung.
If Blake Lively were your girlfriend, you’d complain that you had nothing to wear, and she’d go into her closet and pull out exactly what you wanted but could never find when you went shopping. “You can have this,” she’d say, and despite the fact that you have an entirely different size and body-type than she does, it would somehow fit perfectly.
If Blake Lively were your girlfriend, she would hold your hand to help you balance while you learned to walk in heels.
Laura Sook Duncombe’s previous Literary Ladies Cage Fight columns for The Butter can be found here.
Welcome back, mortals. It is I, Artemis, goddess of the hunt and co-host of the LLCF. Each time we meet, we take two heroines of literature and celebrate their unique attributes…by making them fight! When women are celebrated, everyone’s a winner.
Hey gal-pals! Aphrodite here, goddess of love and beauty and co-host with my fabulous sister Artemis!! Rules are the same as always: five rounds worth one point each. At the end of five rounds, whoever has the most points wins!
Right now our American readers are in the midst of a scorching summer. In an effort to alleviate the tedium of sweat-soaked commutes and other grown-up summer woes, this match features two YA protagonists who are getting a lot of press this summer—Margo Roth Spiegelman from John Green’s Paper Towns and Sidney Stanford from Sarah Dessen’s Saint Anything. Hopefully these teens will remind readers of those endless, possibility-laden summers of their youth, hanging out by the pool by day and cruising around with friends by night. (Shoutout to reader Victoria Sook for requesting this matchup!)
Did anyone really have summers like that? Mine were pretty boring tbh. But I <3 living through my fav YA ladies, whose summers and lives are way cooler than mine!! And I am a HUGE Sarah Dessen superfan and have been since I was an actual teenager, so I am totally psyched that she’s on LLCF this time!
Well then you have to cover Margo, to avoid tainting the results with your crazed fangirl enthusiasm. We must remain impartial! But enough chatter. Let’s get this fight underway!
During the “Bollywood Basics” panel at the 35th annual Romance Writers of America meeting (July 23-26, New York City), Sonali Dev (A Bollywood Affair), Suleikha Snyder (Opening Act), and Nisha Sharma (My So-Called Bollywood Life, forthcoming) play a clip from the 2013 film Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela. A gloriously ripped and shirtless Ranveer Singh, clad in diaphanous pants, smolders at Deepika Padukone as she prowls toward him carrying a steaming goblet. Audience members titter and fan themselves.
Then a panelist mentions that the story is based on Romeo and Juliet. A groan — loud and disappointed — emerges from the crowd.
This audience doesn’t trade in tragedy and thwarted love. They believe in happily ever after — or at least, happily for now.
This is a romance crowd.
“For Women, By Women”: A Brief Recitation of Statistics
The annual RWA meeting is equal parts professional development, networking, and fantasy camp. This year, over 2,000 romance novel writers, editors, agents, publishers, and enthusiasts meet to sign and buy books, attend and host panels, hug, stay up late, and drink too much coffee and alcohol. RWA is one of the two big meetings held every year. (The other, the Romantic Times Booklovers convention, was held earlier this year in Dallas, Texas.)
With over 75 million readers in the U.S. (compare this to, say, the 210,000-strong segment of the population that reads Harper’s Magazine), romance is the largest fiction market by far — more than double the size of the next nearest genre. As historical and contemporary romance writer Maya Rodale notes in the fascinating Dangerous Books for Girls, around 9,000 romance novels are published each year. More than 80% are read by women. More than 90% are written by women. Most of the agents and editors are women.
The happily-ever-after crowd is mainstream fiction, and within it is contained all the seediness and all the glorious awesome that popular culture has to offer. And because it is a female-dominated community, it is in many (but not all) ways a feminist community, especially when members find themselves pitted against a sneering, mostly male literary establishment.
The image of Cruise as Maverick and Jerry Maguire faded into that of a dark, bizarre doppelganger. The face was the same — preserved by some anti-aging magic — but it felt increasingly uncanny. When it was revealed that Christian Bale took his inspiration for the look of American Psycho’s Christian Bateman from watching Tom Cruise’s hollow, perfect laugh in a Letterman interview, it didn’t seem like a jab. It made perfect, terrifying tense.
Bim LOVES Tig Notaro, and so do I (and Mallory!) and the documentary is on Netflix now, so hit it uppp:
Last week I was doing the dishes while watching Tig, a new Netflix documentary about comedian Tig Notaro. I found myself laughing and then crying, at first softly and then suddenly very hard.