**Sqwaaaaak!!**munch, munch, munch**urp!
That? That right there was the transcription of the sound of me eating crow. Which I’ve now been doing for about two days.
For about eighteen years now I’ve been very vocal about not liking the Outlander series of books by Diana Gabaldon. I paid cold, hard cash for the first book when it first came out many years ago. This guy who worked at the Waldenbooks in Hickory Hollow Mall used to hook me up with new titles every payday. I think he liked that I was a customer who wasn’t drifting down from the food court to look at naughty magazines. (This was obviously in the twilight era of both the print magazine industry and Hickory Hollow Mall itself.) He pressed a copy into my hands, fervently BEGGING me to read thing because it would change my life, etc.
I took it home and tried to read it but just wasn’t in love with it. Or even in like with it. I have always had this thing against historical romances, where women fantasize about leaving our troubled times with all the air conditioning, soft-serve ice cream, maxi pads and toilet paper only to drift off in a quest for love during the times when raw sewage floated in the streets and men were allowed to own their wives like cattle. I don’t get any sense of ‘romance’ from all that. I know dating in these times is hard, but come ON! You want to go to a time where dentistry was, if pondered at all, just a quaint notion performed by the guy who also cuts hair?! And this is where you wanna go in search of KISSING?I?! Really?
At that point in my life I was still in my mystery-thriller phase, not having yet softened my youthful prejudice against the romance genre. For mystery-thriller readers in the early 1990s, you have to understand. The reading world really looked down on us. We weren’t serious Utne Readers; rather we were the kids who had barely graduated from comics. If you were a mystery-thriller reader who was a trifle insecure and looking to feel superior over someone else to bolster your self-worth, then you picked on the Romance genre. Like dung, crappy attitudes roll downhill.
Well, it’s about 18 years later and I’ve gotten over myself. I now write the same romance novels I used to disdain. And one of my fellow writers, hearing the topic of my books, said “you must just LOVE the Outlander books!”
Oh, no. Here we go again. I explained why I didn’t love them, why I couldn’t even except the idea of them and she gently explained that I was, indeed, a fool who had no earthly idea what I was talking about. So I downloaded the first one to my beloved Quinndle on Monday afternoon. By Tuesday morning I knew I had to write this post, to rectify my Karma. I was indeed wrong about them. Very wrong. And so far, 32% of the way through the first book*, I have to admit that I am at last eating crow in Diana Gabaldon’s honour.
* Kindle readers have no idea what page they’re on, given that “page” is an outdated concept when you’re reading air. So instead we’ve got a little progress bar at the bottom which colours in darker to correspond with our journey through the book. It reminds me of those fund-raising thermometers which show how much money you’ve got and how much left you’ve yet to earn. I am toying with asking one of my handy computer friends to write a Kindle Page Conversion App for my iPhone that takes the number of pages in the print edition from the Kindle Book Information Site, divides that against your progress percentage and gives you an ephemeral “page number”. Just because. I’m a book lover and pages are part of books and this progress bar/percentage nonsense is part of a colder, more goal-oriented realm.