There are many reasons why we shouldn’t live with Unreliable Narrator, Chick-Lit Heroine, Cop From A Crime Novel, Character From A Young Adult Novel, Literary Fiction Hero, Romantic Hero, Historical Fiction Hero, Husband From A Women’s Fiction Novel or Woman From A Historical Period TV Drama.
But what if some of them ended up living together? What happens to fictional stereotypes, if genres collide?
Recently, we looked at the less than harmonic domestic arrangements between a Crime Novel Cop and a Chick-Lit Heroine, and a Historical Fiction Hero and the protagonist of a YA novel.
So now, dear readers, what would happen if the heroes of romantic and literary fiction were to shack up together?
It’s midnight. A solitary plastic bag floats gently down a garden path, before settling atop a thicket of dying roses. Literary Hero returns from a solitary wander about the streets of London, having considered the futility of humanity’s efforts to find happiness, and opens the door.
Romantic Hero has been pacing the hall in a shirt unbuttoned to the waist, waiting for Literary Hero’s return – which is, coincidentally, the only thing which can make Romantic Hero happy. He looks incredible.
Romantic Hero: Darling.
Literary Fiction Hero: Don’t call me that.
RH: Whyever not, my only love?
LFH: You know it reminds me of my mother.
RH: Everything reminds you of your mother. But some day you’ll make a wonderful mother yourself. I know it.
RH: [cupping Literary Hero’s cheek, blithely unaware that Literary Hero’s flinching] I can see you there, with your shining hair all tumbling down, your belly swollen with my child, smiling at me in the evening sunlight, a haze of love burning from your eyes into mine…
LFH: You think I’m a woman?
RH: I know you’re a woman.
RH: Because I secretly love you, and it’s killing me.
LFH: [drawing away defensively] But I must be a man. Everyone knows literary fiction isn’t about women. Stories about women are women’s fiction, regardless of how pretty and obscure the words are.
RH: Unless you were written by a man. Then you could be a rare female protagonist. You know, like your one in Brooklyn. Or thingamabob in The Scarlet Letter. Um, Nathanial Hawthorne.
LFH: Okay, then. I’m a woman. Sounds plausible enough to be true.
RH: Like my love. I’ll die if I can’t have you.
RH: We were meant to be! Even though I frequently treat you badly and give a good impression of hating you at times. You, with your emotionally unavailable mother; me, with my emotionally bankrupt and abusive father. We’re cosmic twins, except totally not in a familial way because that would be gross when it comes to the sex part. But we can heal each other. You’re my angel.
LFH: You know I hate pet names. They’re so derivative.
RH: Hey, that’s me all over.
LFH: I was thinking on my way home tonight.
RH: I’ve been thinking about you all day, darling.
LFH: I had a strangely vivid flashback which covered my entire life to date in just the twenty-two minutes it took me to get from a non-descript albeit lengthily described train station in Walthamstow to our front door.
RH: That happens you a lot. Yesterday you experienced the dread terror of the entire First World War while you popped out for a pint of milk.
LFH: At least I have more than one thing on my mind.
RH: What can I say? You’re a drug to me. I can barely concentrate on maintaining the billions I make from my incredibly vague global business activities. Sometimes when I’m in the middle of a really important meeting with international business persons in a boardroom or wherever, I think of you, and I can’t breathe.
LFH: I know nothing of this money-driven world you inhabit.
RH: Ain’t that the truth. Otherwise you’d be in a crime thriller right now.
LFH: You’re being unusually blunt tonight, I must say. You’re like a – a – a thing which is really blunt. [backing away and sliding down the wall in horror] Oh, my God! You’re actually interfering with my ability to turn everything into a metaphor!
RH: Except that’d be a simile, though, right? You don’t normally make that kind of mistake… Oh my God, you do love me!
LFH: I love only pain.
RH: But I’ve always been consumed by my love for you. Even though I disguise it with every conceivable narrative device, until my dying breath. Or page 176. Whichever comes first.
LFH: Love is meaningless. Like life. Only death has meaning. Along with whichever inanimate object is representing whatever’s going on in my head right now.
RH: Such as?
LFH: Well, for starters, the plastic bag tumbling in the breeze in the introduction was a symbol of the futility of mortality. And the thicket in which it landed represented the traumatic early loss of my childhood innocence.
RH: And how was I supposed to spot that?
LFH: It’s in the Book Club notes at the back. Why have you taken your shirt off?
RH: [rubbing his hand across his collar bone suggestively] Look, this is getting frustrating. Are we going to quench our primal urges in a frenzy of passionate communion resulting in a soldering of souls, or what?
LFH: Well, I do fancy the pants off you. How could I not, with your wildly impressive pecs which are always visible through your designer shirt which is in any event so frequently taken off, and your piercing steel eyes, and your voice of liquid gold, and your incredible hair which is somehow both long and short at the same time?
RH: I agree.
LFH: But sex is so depressing.
RH: Not in my book, baby. You know I’m absolutely amazing in bed, despite never really providing any plausible evidence for it. Anyway, you can regret it later. You regret most things.
LFH: I can’t argue with that.
RH: So let’s make the psychological hangover worth it.
LFH: Can you make me forget myself?
RH: I can do more than that. Give yourself to me, and I’ll give you the flashback of your life.
LFH: You just closed yourself another deal, Mister. I’m just warning you now that I always cry after.
RH: So do I, my love. So do I.