The Storyteller Reports: Indian Models and Classic Literature

RANT OF THE WEEK: Indian Models Exploited For Bad Literature

Google turns up things that make me cry.

More precisely, it would do so if I had tears left to shed. I just found an article from IBN Live, an Indian news service, trumpeting the use of Indian models on covers of modern romantic fiction books. Disregarding the question of why this is relevant news to the reading public in India or anywhere else, we must ask some difficult questions about this.

“Who cares?” is such an obvious question that I’ll leave it to you. “Why does IBN Live care?” is of more interest to me.

National pride doesn’t seem to be it. The books in question sound so saccharine that I would puke just to read the opening paragraph. I nearly vomited already just reading the blurb. Get a load of this…

Aastha’s novel outlines vivid descriptions of the characters in her Mills and Boons book His Monsoon Bride.

Her protagonist, Amrita, a rich heiress who never fit-in with the elite society, finds happiness working in a public interest magazine and helping out people.

The soft spoken yet independent girl is a natural Indian curvaceous beauty who strongly defies the thin body criteria of the elite.

Amrita’s life goes on uneventful till she meets Mehtab, a handsome millionaire with a ruthless and stern exterior.

In time, she realises that in reality Mehtab is really a kind and generous man whose biggest dream is to have a family. The love that follows between the two is tumultuous and decisive at the same time.”

Allow me to shorten this.

“Sexy girl hate nasty aristocrats. Aristocrats bad. Sexy girl find sexy man who act like caveman. Sexy man turn into nice guy so he can cuddle her and say cheesy passion-thingies in her ear and throw middle finger to aristocrats.”

Literature is in a sad place if such abuses are tolerated. I almost wish we were able to ban books again. But, as Kanye West put it with surprising eloquence, “No one man should have all that power.”

I’ll ignore that, then, and move on to those poor models. What does it say about the world of literature if woman are flaunted on screen like pretty toys in order to get us to buy books? Mark my words, ladies and gentlemen. I will never use the picture of a woman to sell any book that I have written in the past, or will write in the future. Not if it’s just to turn on the reader.

So the next time you see those paperbacks next to the Wal-Mart checkout (you know which ones I’m talking about), steel your brows and walk away. Say a prayer, even, if you believe in that sort of thing.

STORYTELLER OF THE WEEK

When I’m not blogging here, I’m studying English at Benedictine College. We’re in our last week of the semester, and I thought it appopriate to salute a storyteller of the highest caliber. He might not seem like one at first glance, but he merits his place.

Dr. George Nicholas, head of the English Department here, has given me a deeper appreciation for British Literature, and for literature in general. These three semesters past have been a journey which I could never have pictured before stepping into classroom 406. We’ve traced the development of the literary hero from Homer to Shakespeare. That progression would make a good novel in itself. With wit and wisdom, Dr. Nicholas has written that novel with vigorous analysis and thought-provoking ideas.

Salute him! He has traced a journey as exciting and urgent as anything you might read in Coleridge or Tennyson!

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