Romance Is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love at Last
Like most people, I very much enjoy having my narrow view of life confirmed in writing by persons older and more successful than myself. Thus it was a delight to read Patience Bloom’s recent book, ROMANCE IS MY DAY JOB.
Mrs. Bloom has been a fiction editor at the esteemed publishing house Harlequin for many years, and has used the experience gathered in that time to write an extended meditation on romance and reading. Her general conclusion is that romantic love as represented in popular fiction and romantic love as experienced in real life are two quite different things --- the former being glittering, passionate and highly sexed; the latter being tedious, painful and, all things considered, a great waste of everyone’s time. Thank heavens that someone has finally worked this out and committed such revelatory ideas to print.
"Ultimately, Patience’s heroism lies in her extraordinary optimism about the male sex despite the abundance of evidence she encounters to the contrary."
Sorry, did I type Mrs. Bloom a moment ago? It seems I’ve given the game away; yes, even Patience gets hitched in the end. I’d amend my earlier “spoiler,” but then the attentive reader will notice from the book’s subtitle, as well as from the fact that the narrator’s last name in her memories of early life, “Smith,” is suspiciously different from the name under which she publishes, that matrimony is very much where this particular story is headed. So what happened to love in real life being a miserable travesty of fictionalized romance? In an unlikely synthesis of the two poles of romance earlier set out, the final third of the book is devoted to describing the development of her relationship with Mr. Bloom, a gentleman who, as you may have gathered, was so kind as to give her his name.
If one has read descriptions of bad dates in Cosmo, or any of the other popular weeklys, one will be familiar enough with the genre in which Bloom is writing. Her book is, in its length if in nothing else, the MOBY-DICK of bad date stories. This unhappy woman goes on bad dates for hundreds of turgid pages before finally settling down. One can’t help but feel sorry for her; she comes across all kinds of rotten apples --- from a promiscuous French waiter to a college kid with an unhealthy interest in Eastern Philosophy. These two aren’t the only duds, either: although the words “premature ejaculation” are not used explicitly, this reader for one felt that they were heavily implied. Any number of the lamentable men found in this hefty tome would put a less persistent woman off flirtatious interactions for life. Ultimately, Patience’s heroism lies in her extraordinary optimism about the male sex despite the abundance of evidence she encounters to the contrary.
Perhaps a word or two on the writing. Patience Bloom’s prose is almost as cloying as her name is. Her every expression is borrowed; she calls herself a “desperate romantic,” her boyfriends are always “the One” (sic. I would never capitalize the ‘o’ of my own accord), her beloved brother is cast in the undesirable role of being her “rock,” and a gay friend is inevitably referred to as “sassy.” Naturally, her world view is entirely uncritical of anti-feminist stereotypes; the woman is obsessed with men, to the point at which she barely thinks about anything else. Except, of course, dessert, her dependence on which seems to reach Falstaffian heights of self-indulgence.
In short, Patience is a woman who says things like “Relationships are complicated, aren’t they?” and has friends who say things like “It’s a good setting. That way the ring can breathe.” One can only suppose that someone unwilling to buy a book by such an author is looking, in their reading matter, for something that might improve their mind.
Reviewed by Frederick Lloyd on February 21, 2014