It is amazing what a person remembers. Ask my father where he was when he heard Kennedy had been shot, and he will rattle off the specifics like it happened yesterday. My older sister remembers getting up for school one December morning in 1980, only to learn that John Lennon was dead. I remember September 11, 2001.
It was a Tuesday. I was actually home in the morning, because Tuesday happens to be the day that I go into work late. I remember sitting on the couch, half tuned into The Today Show, and flipping through Devil In A Kilt by Sue-Ellen Welfonder - a debut I had been assigned to review. When the first plane hit, I thought like everyone else that it was a tragic accident, but I started paying a little more attention to the TV than to the book. Then came the second plane.
I remember praying that all of my friends in the City were OK, and that their families were safe. I remember my younger sister’s frantic thoughts for a high school friend who worked in the Towers -- a boy she used to drive to school, a boy who had just graduated from Yale, a boy now known to have perished.
I remember coming to work at the library, and walking in a daze, a set of rabbit ear antennas tuned in to a fuzzy newscast. I watched a lot of TV. I wrote a lot of e-mail. I made some phone calls. I learned that all of my friends were OK.
After September 11, reading genre fiction, particularly romance, took on a different meaning. I finished Welfonder’s debut on September 17. Already a slow reader, I found it hard to concentrate on the Scottish Highlands with the rubble of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and my sister’s grief clouding my thoughts. Still I persevered, and the strength of Welfonder’s heroine, Linnet, especially when confronted with the odious villain, Kenneth, still sticks in my mind.
My next review assignment, Kay Hooper’s Touching Evil, made me particularly wary - a grisly book about a serial rapist who maims his victims. Surprisingly, with work and my own distracted thoughts, I finished it in a mere 5 days. For whatever reason, even with the horrific events depicted in that book, I found myself comforted somehow, drawn back to genre fiction.
After September 11, people rediscovered their passions. I have always believed that one should feel passionate about something. Walking through life with blinders on, aimlessly drifting from day to day, makes for a sad existence. What possible reason would there be to get out of bed in the morning? There has to be something, a spark that provides a bit of imagination and starts the wheels turning. I am a genre-fiction-reading librarian. That is my passion.
Genre fiction, specifically romance and mystery, does something to me every time. Everyday I want to share a little of that zeal with library patrons. If I can help them to unwind, relax, and maybe forget about the real world for just a few hundred pages, then I am doing my job.
Genre fiction has little to do with the real world, and that is as it should be. I can watch two people fall in love, travel back in time, or solve a grisly crime. Reading is like an open invitation from a good friend, and genre fiction insures that the invitation will be a good time, well spent, with a happy ending waiting at the last page.
In a post 9/11 world, reading can not only provide the relaxation a mind sorely needs, but it can be fun. Fun may seem like a frivolous commodity, but nothing rejuvenates the soul like a smile. Reading makes me smile, and if it is a particularly good book - I am left smiling for days after finishing that last page. While I may have found my passion temporarily distracted by world events, I now find my ideals stronger than ever, with a renewed strength to share that joy with others.
But that's my opinion.
Readers, email The Romance Reader with your opinion. Have an idea for a Forum of your own? Let us know.
September 11, 2002