Why do I read romance? #167

Maybe one day I’ll definitively answer this question. Today’s attempt ventures onto new ground.

I’ve been listening a lot to Dexys’ 2012 album One Day I’m Going to Soar this week. I got this album shortly after its release and loved it. One of the things I loved about it was that it was a single theme/single story album which is always red letter for me (since I am all about theme, baby). However, in my head, it was a relationship-gone-wrong story and I never really got beyond that. I did as I usually do with it, which is to say I played it death for a few weeks (cause I tend to saturate myself with the stuff I love, you know? Roll in it. Soak in it) but I was pretty much always doing something else at the same time.

Usually writing.

Recently, though, I started walking to work a couple of times a week and I began listening to whole albums with all my attention in a way I haven’t done for quite a while.

This week I picked up One Day I’m Going to Soar and you know what I discovered? It’s not about a relationship gone wrong (though that’s part of how Kevin Rowland shows you what it is about).

It’s actually about a man discovering, and accepting, who he is.

It’s about him answering the question Who Am I?

In his case, the answer is that he’s kind of an eternal outsider who has no desire to be paired up in life or to have a family life. He wants to be free (and the exuberant “Free” at the end of the album is a superbly defiant and joyous two fingers to everyone who thinks that being single is the end if the world).

So anyway, the thing – the big exciting thought – that hit me as I listened to this album, again and again this week, was that I was reacting to this album, this story, the way I react to great romances – even though the guy ends up alone at the end. Like, I was excited by the whole thing and happy at the end and hopeful. And I was identifying, present in my shadowy way in these songs. There but not, like when I read.

It made me think again about why I read romance. It me wonder whether romance –  that core love story  – in some ways is just like setting or plot or characterisation for me? Like, it’s part of *it*( what I’m looking for) but not actually *it*.

Perhaps *my* thing, the thing I am  always looking for, is about realising or actualising the self (something I’ve sort-of blogged about before here)? Discovering – or maybe turning into – who you *really* are?

Perhaps my love of romance isn’t so much about love stories as it is about this essential identity story and it’s just that romance is the best place to find this in its purest form because romance (particularly LGBTQ romance) is so focused on that “Who am I?” question? 

This is a big idea for me and it’s giving me food for thought.

This is my (current) favourite song from the Dexys’ album, Nowhere is Home which is just so great. I particularly love the part where he talks about wanting to be “the man of my dreams” (3:45ish).

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