On anthropomorphising the book genres…

I have an odd imagination; my husband tells me this constantly. I think of the oddest of things at times when you might least expect it. For instance, I glimpsed this morning’s newsletter with last week’s blog post opening sentence and I said to myself, “What kind of personalities would book genres be if they were people?” And then I thought that might make for an interesting blog post; so here goes…

Obligatory disclaimer: There are hundreds of genres and sub-genres and if I attempt to figure them all out we’ll be here all year so I hope you’ll be able to bear with me as I play with some of the more commonly known and top level ones for this fun exercise. Also, I am somewhat biased about genres; for instance, I am not a sucker for a love story nor am I too much of a lover of true-story dramas (I remember Lifetime TV with much horror), thus my characterisations may come off a bit cynical.

The Romance Story I see as a tall, dark, and handsome man. He’s rugged; muscled up not from years of gym memberships, but from hours in the tropical (or near-tropical) sun lifting logs or hacking away at underbrush. He’s intelligent even though he is clearly a product of hardcore manual labour and he’s sensitive even though his physique makes him seem brutal. His smile is dazzling and his voice is like smooth butter. His hands are calloused, but in a good way so that when he touches you, you just want to melt away. It’s actually a little annoying when you are trying to have a conversation, and he’s touching your hand and smiling when you swoon. I am a woman, so of course my reaction to him is somewhat … *ahem* … biased. I think for a man he would be intimidating and potentially the epitome of everything you hate about men like him. I mean he even does “clumsy” like a King. What’s to like? Pfft.

In contrast to the Romance Story, the Thriller is a tall and misshapen man with a scarred face perpetually hidden in shadow. He is extremely slim, almost to emaciation; not quite because he has to remain attractive on some plane. If nothing else, the Thriller is attractive based on the lingering air of danger that surrounds him. He is always dressed in a long trench-coat – mostly black, but on some rainy days he chooses grey or tan depending on his mood. He has no hair. Or maybe we just don’t see it because his trench-coats always have hoods. His eyes are grey – maybe. At least we think they are grey because just when his face is about to emerge from that incessant shadow, we catch a glimpse that implies that they are grey. He almost never speaks, but when he does his voice is gruff and creaky and you have to strain to hear him. He gives you an uncomfortable feeling that he could be related to the Horror Story; possibly as close as being his brother.

The Horror Story is your typical two-faced type deal. Some days (or at certain times during the day), this gentleman is … well, he’s a gentleman. His face is nondescript. It’s so nondescript that we can’t remember enough of it to describe it. He is one of those people who blends well into almost any background. The only environment in which he stands out is one in which there is lots of love and family in the air, and then one looks at him and realises that ‘wait a minute – that dude looks positively odd’. And then his other face pops out at you and it looks mysteriously similar to our Thriller guy – misshapen and hidden in shadow. Sometimes, we’ll be out walking in the park with Horror Story and he’s wearing shorts and a polo shirt; but then we’ll meet up with a friend or two and when we turn around to introduce them, suddenly he’s in a black trench-coat with a hood and we think “Well, what the hell …?” Horror Story is a hard man (or is it a woman, I’m not sure now) to pin down though, so maybe it’s time we moved onto Comedy?

Comedy is a fresh-faced young woman who loves summer dresses and flip-flops. She’s so full of fun that sometimes we feel overwhelmed by it. I mean, sure – she always makes us laugh our heads off at all kinds of ordinary things; even when those things are ourselves. Comedy tends to force us to look at ourselves and ask ourselves whether what we think we know is real or whether what we think is false is our reality. Even though she makes us laugh almost constantly, we get the distinct feeling that Comedy knows exactly how life ought to be lived. She’s the kind of person we want to have around all the time, even in the darkest of moments in our lives.

The Mystery is … a mystery, quite frankly. Sometimes she’s a mischievous little thing; dressed in coveralls and being funny in a way that is a lot like Comedy but with an air that resembles the sinister Thriller’s trench-coat (man; that trench-coat is everywhere, isn’t it?). At other times, Mystery takes on characteristics of her uncle Horror Story which just about chills your blood in your veins. I mean what is more horrible than witnessing an attractive young woman grow horns and grin with a devilish glee? Still, sometimes she can be charming and old school and makes you think of little old ladies puttering around in their neighbour’s closets looking for skeletons. (Ugh – even when completely harmless, Mystery is being a little weird).

Finally, I see Drama as a lovable, elderly woman in long, shapeless grey dresses shuffling around always crying. When she smiles, it is usually through a curtain of tears. The trick to understand with Drama is that she isn’t always sad, sometimes she’s so happy that she’s crying too. She smells a little bit of cinnamon and homemade bread and she’s really very comfortable to hug (and Drama loves her hugs, let me tell you). She feels warm and comforting like Mom sometimes, and other times she just feels wet (it might be safe to assume that that is because she cries so much).

I wonder what all these people would look like in a room together for Christmas? Can you imagine ruggedly handsome Romance in a room with Horror, Thriller, Comedy, Mystery, and Drama?

Horror would be sitting over on a chair by the door (in a shadow of course), with a bottle of some hard liquor in one hand, a glass in another, and morosely watching everyone have fun out of the corner of his eyes. Thriller would be trying to look innocuous and non-threatening over by the punch bowl and simultaneously be a little miffed that all he manages to do is scare people off. Drama would be making the rounds of the room alternatively hugging people and crying about how happy she was to see them. Mystery and Comedy would be playing the piano together, laughing and singing while Romance, of course, would be standing behind the piano, singing along with them being all handsome and stuff.

Actually, now that I re-read all of that, I think it’d be one of the weirdest family gatherings ever.

  • wodkehawkinson

    This article is so clever! Really enjoyed it.

  • teddyclctr

    My thoughts run very similar to yours on genre personalities. Loved your post!