Tragedy, Literary Value, and Theology

By Laura Vivanco on Wednesday, 29 May, 2019

In an important paper analysing the attitudes underlying critical contempt for popular romance fiction, Pamela Regis drew on the work of Laura Wilder, who stated that

“the critic exhibits an assumption of despair over the condition of society” (85). Moreover “the critic tends to value works that describe despair, alienation, seediness, anxiety, decay, declining values, and difficulty in living and loving in our society” (85)

I was therefore intrigued to read that

Many critics have argued that there cannot be a Christian tragedy. [...] George Orwell claimed [...] that 'It is doubtful whether the sense of tragedy is compatible with belief in God...'; for, he said, tragedy is incompatible with the kind of moral demand which feels cheated when virtue fails to triumph: 'A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.' (Sherry 88-89)

That sense of being "cheated" is one which romance readers express very loudly when they encounter a novel labelled a romance but which ends unhappily. And there is a moral demand inherent in this: as Jennifer Porter has observed, "ultimately the reason many of us read romance is because we have hope in the real world. We believe in the power of the HEA/FN".


Porter, Jennifer. Tweet from 4 January 2019.

Regis, Pamela. “What Do Critics Owe the Romance? Keynote Address at the Second Annual Conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance”. Journal of Popular Romance Studies 2.1 (2011).

Sherry, Patrick. Images of Redemption: Art, Literature and Salvation. London: T&T Clark, 2003.

Romance and "Zombie Coupledom"

By Laura Vivanco on Sunday, 5 May, 2019

This morning I came across an article by Sarah Brouillette about romance. It's mainly about the economics of romance reading/publishing, as you can see from the abstract:

This article studies the relative success of the mass-market romance industry. It argues that, in conditions of general economic downturn, supports for the cultivation of literary reading have declined, while inducements to romance reading have strengthened. It considers the centrality of self-publishing to romance reading, and the styles of work available to romance writers, most of whom are women and are usually poorly remunerated. It considers, finally, the contemporary romance heroine, treating her as a figure of fantastical symbolic reconciliation: between a liberal ideal of independent empowerment and the reality of persistent compulsion toward coupledom and subservience.

It's in the discussion of this last point that I detect an assumption with which I cannot agree. According to Sarah Brouillette, the romance "industry is propping up both zombie coupledom and empowerment discourse. It offers stories that reconcile the ideal of women’s “ownership” of their sexuality with the compulsion—material and social—to enter into coupledom" (462). As such,

the romance genre is a cultural niche that supports the zombie persistence of the couple form. Melinda Cooper has argued that part of why coupledom persists is simply as a bulwark against economic instability and harried life. It remains a powerful form of risk management—what Mark McGurl calls, in his own work on romance, the “little welfare state.” McGurl points out that coupledom is also supposed to offer passionate erotic satisfaction to self-possessed individuals. This is a hard row to hoe, however, given how harried and beleaguered people are. (461)

Call me brainless if you like, but I'm going to carry on thinking there's something more (like love and emotional support and connection) underpinning good romantic relationships.


Brouillette, Sarah, 2019. "Romance Work." Theory & Event 22.2, pp. 451-464.

Romance vs. Crime: Snippets of Fact vs. Pure Speculation

By Laura Vivanco on Thursday, 25 April, 2019

I recently came across a foreword to a critical work about crime fiction which digressed into some pure speculation about romance readers. This foreword, by Professor Frances Washburn, asked

What is specific [...] about crime fiction that appeals to readers? Berthold Brecht, German dramatist and poet, wrote, "The crime novel is about logical thought and demands such logical thought from the reader. It is close to the crossword puzzle in that respect." And further, why is it that romance fiction still surpasses crime fiction in popularity, if only marginally?
I would contend that these two genres appeal to readers with differing psychological profiles, and while I have no evidence to support this assertion, it seems to me that romance readers seek fiction that is comforting, that allows them to believe familiar and timeless philosophies: that true love exists, that finding the perfect mate is possible, and that there is a happily ever after ending, if only between the covers of romance novels. Likely, these readers also believe, or want to believe, that everyone has a personal protective angel and that fairies could be real. Crime novel readers may be drawn to puzzle solving, which every murder mystery certainly is, unafraid to view the ultimate crime in gory detail, even if only between the pages of crime novels. Neither reader is superior or inferior, merely reading with different needs and different perspectives. (x, emphasis added)

There's so much to quibble with, question and dispute here: it ignores the fact that there are many readers who move between the two genres, that "cosy" mysteries may be comforting and may be chosen because they don't depict gore and that the philosophies listed are not "timeless". If romance readers believe in fairies, what about readers of fantasy? Does the juxtaposition of fairies and angels have implications for certain religious beliefs?

Tweet from the Crime Writers' Association saying they're "pleased to announce that all Romantic Novelists' Association members are now welcome at our chapter meetings, in the spirit of cross-pollination!" (22 April 2019)

[Tweet from the Crime Writers' Association saying they're "pleased to announce that all Romantic Novelists' Association members are now welcome at our chapter meetings, in the spirit of cross-pollination!" (22 April 2019)]

I wouldn't deny, though, that there are certain core beliefs present in these two genres, that they appear to differ from each other, and that they probably evoke (or aim to evoke) different responses in their readers. Jennifer Crusie has argued that

the romance novel is based on the idea of an innate emotional justice in the universe, that the way the world works is that good people are rewarded and bad people are punished. The mystery genre is based on the same assumption, only there it’s a moral justice, a sense of fair play in human legal interaction: because the good guys risk and struggle, the murderers get punished and good triumphs in a safe world.

David Carter and Millicent Weber also touch briefly on romance and compare it to crime fiction, but in their case the analysis is very firmly founded on facts:

For genre fiction, romance - by far the largest of the generic categories, with 1766 titles published in 2013-2017 - is dominated unsurprisingly by HarperCollins's Harlequin and related imprints, responsible on their own for forty-eight per cent of romance titles in the period surveyed (for further analysis of genre publishing see Driscoll et al. 2018). In terms of market share, this figure is in fact a decline from the sixty-four per cent recorded for the period 2010-2013, indicating the recent commitment of other major players to the expanding romance market, not least through digital imprints such as PRH's Destiny Romance. HarperCollins, PRH [Penguin Random House], Pan Macmillan and Hachette between them cover sixty-one percent of new romance titles, and the vast majority of the remainder are self-published. By contrast, a much larger number of independents figure in crime publishing, which overall recorded 574 titles for the period. The prominence of these independents testifies to crime's higher cultural standing among genre forms and its generic investment in local settings. The multinationals, including Simon & Schuster, produced only seventeen per cent of crime titles in the period surveyed, while a group of local independents produced 22 per cent.
In sum, local independents are comparatively far more visible in literary and crime fiction publishing than in romance, thriller/adventure and fantasy. Medium-sized firms are substantially represented, but the multinationals dominate in both literary and genre fiction, that is, in both the more profitable and the more prestigious forms of publishing. (351)


Carter, David and Millicent Weber. "Fiction Publishing in Australia, 2013-2017". Publishing and Culture, ed. Dallas John Baker, Donna Lee Brien and Jen Webb. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2019. 341-58.

Crusie, Jennifer. "I Know What It Is When I Read It: Defining the Romance Genre".

Driscoll, Beth, Lisa Fletcher, Kim Wilkins and David Carter, 2018. "The Publishing Ecosystems of Contemporary Australian Genre Fiction". Creative Industries Journal 11.2: 203-21.

Washburn, Frances. "Foreword". Native American Mystery Writing: Indigenous Investigations, Mary Stoecklein.  Lanham, Maryland: Lexington, 2019. ix-xi.

With thanks to Vassilikí Véros for drawing my attention to the timely Crime Writers' Association tweet.

Trust Women Readers

By Laura Vivanco on Tuesday, 5 March, 2019

Quite a lot has been written about the dangers of reading, and how fiction may encourage readers (particularly young and female readers) to act or think in ways which are detrimental to them. Gry Hongsmark Knudsen argues that those with such concerns have been underestimating women readers. They interviewed women readers of the Fifty Shades books and found that these readers

read Fifty Shades instrumentally [...] to reinvigorate their sex lives and to remind themselves of sex. In that process, they put less emphasis on whether the relationship in the narrative is something with which they identify or not. Rather, what they describe as attractive about the books is their ability to produce "affective intensity" [...]. That is, the important part of the reading process is the affective changes produced in the mind and body, not whether the relationship in the narrative is realistic, attractive, or equal. If the readers are concerned that the book is problematic in terms of its gender roles and portrayal of women, it does not produce a pleasurable state of mind or body and they stop reading. Thus it seems that, whichever option they choose, the readers adopt a selective reading process: either they disregard the troubling aspects or they stop reading because of the troubling aspects. As such, the findings of this study challenge the hypothesis that readers are necessarily influenced in specific ways by texts, given that in the sample all the readers taking part disregarded, rejected, or resisted some parts of the narrative to focus on others. (181)

The conclusion is that,

if we acknowledge women as critical readers, we also have to acknowledge that the process of adopting ideologies based on texts [...] is far from simple. Readers defy reading positions inscribed in texts and thereby differ widely in what they get out of reading them. (182)


Hongsmark Knudsen, Gry. "Critical Consumers: Discourses of Women, Sexuality, and Objectification", Handbook of Research on Gender and Marketing, ed. Susan Dobscha. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2019. 168-185.

Pop Culture as Replacement for Religious Ritual?

By Laura Vivanco on Monday, 7 January, 2019

In an article published in 1969 John Cawelti suggested that

In earlier more homogeneous cultures religious ritual performed the important function of articulating and reaffirming the primary cultural values. Today, with cultures composed of a multiplicity of differing religious groups, the synthesis of values and their reaffirmation has become an increasingly important function of the mass media and the popular arts. Thus, one important dimension of formula is social or cultural ritual. (388)

I'm not sure if this is true of all forms of popular culture but the idea that genre fiction could be synthesising certain religious values and beliefs chimes with what Jennifer Crusie has to say about the core narrative of romance and detective fiction:

the romance novel is based on the idea of an innate emotional justice in the universe, that the way the world works is that good people are rewarded and bad people are punished. The mystery genre is based on the same assumption, only there it’s a moral justice, a sense of fair play in human legal interaction: because the good guys risk and struggle, the murderers get punished and good triumphs in a safe world. So in romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice, unconditional love in an emotionally safe world.


Cawelti, John G. “The Concept of Formula in the Study of Popular Literature,” Journal of Popular Culture 3.3 (1969): 381-390.

Crusie, Jennifer. “I Know What It Is When I Read It: Defining the Romance Genre,” originally published in Romance Writer’s Report. PAN March 2000.

Murder and Metafiction

By Laura Vivanco on Sunday, 9 December, 2018

The cover of Running HotThere's a short metafictional passage in Jayne Ann Krentz's Running Hot which manages to make quite a few points about the appeal of popular romance, and implies it isn't less realistic than crime fiction:

He glanced at the cover of her book. The illustration showed the shadowed profile of a woman. She had a gun in her hand. The title was equally ominous.
"Looks like a murder mystery," he said.
"Romantic-suspense," she corrected.
"Meaning it's got both romance and a couple of murders in it."
"You like books like that?"
He smiled. "Thought you said you weren't a romantic."
"I'm not." She turned another page. "Doesn't mean that I don't like to read about romance."
"What about the murders?"
"They get solved by clever sleuthing on the part of the hero and heroine. It's very satisfying."
"You know, in real life the motivation for murder is usually a lot more straightforward than it is in fiction," he said. "Somebody gets pissed off, picks up the nearest gun and shoots the guy who pissed him off."
"Really?" She did not seem particularly interested.
"What's more, the majority of cases get solved because someone talks, not because of forensics or clever sleuthing."
"If I want real police work, I'll read the newspapers, not a book," she said.
"Probably a good idea. Let me know how that one ends."
She turned another page. "I already know how it ends."
"You read the ending first?"
"I always read the ending first before I commit to the whole book."
He looked at her, baffled. "If you know how it ends, why read the book?"
"I don't read for the ending. I read for the story. [...] Life is too short to waste time on books that end badly."
"By badly, you mean unhappily, right?"
"As far as I'm concerned, the two are synonymous." (152-154)


Krentz, Jayne Ann. Running Hot. 2009. New York: Jove, 2010.

Censorship of Popular Romance in Nigeria

By Laura Vivanco on Tuesday, 4 December, 2018

Emmanuel Ifeduba's "Book Censorship in Nigeria: A study of Origin, Methods and Motivations, 1805-2018" (Library Philosophy and Practice, 2018) lists the:

Kano Book Burning (2007): In May 2007, A Daidaita Sahu, the Kano State agency for the reorientation, organized a book and film burning at a local girl’s school as a prelude to a proposed anti-publication law against over 300 young writers whose incursion into romance and western-style literature, known as Littattafan soyayya, threatened the conservative male-chauvinistic system operating in the state. Ibrahim Shekarau, Governor of Kano State at the time, publicly burned thousands of copies of Hausa romance novels describing them as pornographic and immoral to the customs and traditions of Northern Nigeria. Consequently, writers in the state sued him and he was forced to settle out of court and to slow down on his censorship. In February, 2016, government officials stopped a popular radio narrator of the novels, Isa Ahmed Koko, from visiting Kano to meet his fans.

Strangers and Strategies: Conceptualising the Writing of Sex Scenes

By Laura Vivanco on Wednesday, 10 October, 2018

Sociologists Jennifer Lois and Joanna Gregson found, over the course of their research, that "Outsiders often made comments to [romance] writers that suggested they viewed them as oversexed women who documented their personal sexual experiences and fantasies in their books" (466). Romance writers responded to "outsiders leering at their willingness to write about sex [...] in two ways: granting the request by personalizing their sexuality or denying it by depersonalizing the sexual content of their books" (471).

Writers who adopted the first type of response were

advertising themselves as sexual beings. Though this strategy was not universally accepted, we saw many examples, such as dressing as dominatrices at book signings; singing sexually suggestive karaoke with romance novel cover models at a readers convention; and hosting “post the sexiest shirtless Navy SEAL” contests on Facebook fan pages, often with the explicit goal of growing readership. (475)

Other authors, however, chose to

resist. They mainly did so by depersonalizing the sexual content of their books and framing it instead as integral to the craft of storytelling. If writers could emphasize that the story sex was not about them, they could decline the invitation to display their sexuality, negate the assumption that they were documenting their own sex lives, and gain control over the leering interactions. (476)

Lois and Gregson found that "Embracing either a personalizing or depersonalizing strategy did not create a fixed division among writers, but some writers had strong opinions about how useful and appropriate each strategy was" (476).

It might not be an entirely "fixed division" but I was surprised when I encountered a vintage guide to writing romance that seemed to to employ both strategies near-simultaneously.

In Chapter 10, titled "Will They or Won't They? Writing Sensual Sex Scenes", of Helene Schellenberg Barnhart's Writing Romance Fiction: For Love and Money (1983), a series of short quotes from editors and established authors break up the text. These quotes are set apart from Barnhart's own words by being placed in what amount to boxes, and the text is both in bold and italicised:

“[...] Although naturally the sensual scenes, like the rest of the book, are basically works of imagination, probably I draw on my personal experiences and preferences more for such scenes than for any other part of the stories.” Lynda Ward, romance author (146)

“All you need to be able to write a good love scene is to enjoy making love yourself. Any good romance writer is a romantic and knows that’s one of the best things in life. It should come pretty automatically.” Joyce Thies, one half of Janet Joyce, romance author (148)

“I look for quality writing – immediacy, intensity, sincerity, good dialogue and action, and a rapid plot development that keeps me turning the pages. Where sex is concerned, emotion and sensuality are important, not clinical detail. Whatever turns the writer on will come off the page.” Jacqui Bianchi, romance editor (149)

Ward and Thies are employing strategy one and Bianchi is encouraging a reading of romance novels that links sex scenes with their authors' sexuality.

As the author of the guide, Barnhart does add a little about how her own experiences affect her writing, in a section concerning symbolism:

I'm particularly drawn to the ocean, since I spent my childhood and adolescent years in a house built on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In a sex scene, I might use the ocean symbolically [...] Nature can furnish you with an inexhaustible supply of symbols to use in creating sensual sex scenes [...]. I have found, though, that for a symbol to work, you must be emotionally moved by that symbol. It must have a personal meaning to you. (147-48)

Saying that oceans are significant to you because you lived near one in your childhood is not really an example of strategy one, even if you do suggest that there is little "more sensual than the wind sighing through the pines, or the murmur of the waves as they break upon the beach below the bedroom window" (158). The inset comment which follows this extremely minor revelation, moreover, underscores Barnhart's reticence and modesty because it is the most blatant example yet of strategy one:

I’m always in the mood to write sensual love scenes, undoubtedly influenced by my office being in one corner of a very sexy (to me) bedroom. If this isn’t enough, I need only walk down the stairs and seek my husband. After thirty-three years of marriage, his love is still inspiration enough to have fueled several novels.” Alice Morgan, author of contemporary romances (159)

Rather strikingly, the paragraph preceding this quote is addressed to would-be authors who "feel inhibited or embarrassed at the thought of writing sex scenes for your romance novel, or worried over what your family and friends might think" (159). One might, given the number of inset quotations employing or supporting strategy one, think that Barnhart would proceed to advocate this approach. Instead, the reason Barnhart insists the newbie must "purge" themselves "of this feeling if you have decided to write this type of book" is that "you are not describing your own romance, your own erotic thoughts, or your own sexual experience" (159).

Moreover, the inset statements from Ward, Thies, Bianchi and Morgan seem entirely incompatible with what Barnhart has to say next about what will happen:

If you [...] attend a professional writers' conference. Listen to the pros. You'll soon discover that as they talk about their stories, it is not of themselves they speak. They talk about their heroines and heroes as if they were separate, living people. You'll have to remind yourself that the subjects of the conversation are fictional. Professional writers have no difficulty in putting themselves aside, and you won't either, with a little practice. (160)

This, it seems to me, implies that all authors employ strategy two. I can't help but wonder what effect these mixed messages had on aspiring authors in the early 1980s. Personally, I feel a bit gaslit.


Lois, Jennifer and Joanna Gregson. “Sneers and Leers: Romance Writers and Gendered Sexual Stigma.” Gender & Society 29.4 (2015): 459-483.

Schellenberg Barnhart, Helene. Writing Romance Fiction for Love and Money. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 1983.


Latest (not conclusive) findings about romance and readers' relationship beliefs

By Laura Vivanco on Friday, 24 August, 2018

I thought I'd write up a brief summary of the findings related to romance in

Stern, Stephanie C., Brianne Robbins, Jessica E. Black and Jennifer L. Barnes. "What You Read and What You Believe: Genre Exposure and Beliefs About Relationships." Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Advance online publication. Abstract here.

Stern et al summarise prior research which found that

People who watch more soap operas, which tend to focus heavily on romantic storylines, have been shown to hold beliefs about relationships that detract from one’s relationship satisfaction and longevity (Haferkamp, 1999). Exposure to romantic comedy movies in young adults has also been shown to correlate with greater support of the relationship ideals common to the genre, such as the belief that love conquers all and the idealization of romantic partners (Hefner & Wilson, 2013). Similarly, in a study by Shapiro and Kroeger (1991), participants who endorsed unrealistic beliefs about relationships scored higher on a measure of exposure to romance novels and movie romantic comedies. Specifically, exposure to romance was shown to significantly correlate with greater support of the belief that mindreading and sexual perfectionism should be expected in a relationship.

Taken as a whole, this body of work is consistent with the idea that exposure to Romance fiction, across media, is associated with a variety of unrealistic beliefs about romantic relationships. However, a majority of the studies cited above relied on voluntary self-reported exposure to romantic films, magazines, and/or novels, and the definition of what qualifies as “romance” media varies significantly between experiments. (4)

Their paper

is focused on the degree to which exposure to seven different literary genres relates to participants’ endorsement of the beliefs that the sexes are inherently different, that all disagreement is destructive, that one’s romantic partner should be able to know one’s thoughts and feelings without being told, that romantic partners cannot change, and that sexual perfection should be expected in relationships (3)

The seven genres were "classics, contemporary literary fiction, romance, fantasy, science fiction, suspense/thriller, horror" (5), later reduced to six because "high collinearity between science fiction and fantasy" (6) led them to combine the two.

For romance, the "association between familiarity with romance authors and the belief that the sexes are difference [sic] was positive: participants who recognized more romance authors scored higher on the sexes are different subscale" (6). In other words, romance readers were more likely than other readers to endorse the idea that men are different from women. However, romance reading was not associated with any of the other "unrealistic" beliefs listed above.

The correlational findings from this study differ from past research on the romance genre in several ways. For example, Fong and colleagues (2015) found no significant correlation between exposure to romantic books and attitudes about sex and gender, whereas the current research found that individuals who read romance novels are more likely to assert that the sexes are inherently different. Conversely, research on other forms of media has shown various correlations between Romance and maladaptive relationship beliefs, such as the belief that mind reading is expected and stronger idealization of relationships as a whole (Shapiro & Kroeger, 1991; Hefner & Wilson, 2013), whereas our study showed no relationship between exposure to the romance genre and these beliefs. This difference may be due, in part, to the present study controlling for exposure to other written fiction genres, including literary classics, which may be particularly important, given that exposure to the classics— or increased knowledge of them—may reflect education more than reading habits per se. (9)

In addition, the results do not show that romance causes its readers to believe that "the sexes are inherently different":

Another limitation that merits consideration is the correlational nature of the results reported here. The current experiment found a relationship between exposure to certain written fiction genres and relationship beliefs, but it does not and cannot determine the nature of that association. It is possible that repeatedly reading specific genres affects our beliefs about relationships, but it is also possible that preexisting beliefs guide genre preferences. (10)

So more

research is needed to explore whether viewing or reading specific genres of fiction affects relationship beliefs and, conversely, whether priming specific relationship beliefs can influence fiction preferences. Finally, future research is needed to explore the role that other variables, such as education, imagination, prior experience with romantic relationships, and transportation may play in the associations found here. (10)


Separate Church and State, not Families

By Laura Vivanco on Tuesday, 7 August, 2018

Family separation has been, and remains, in the news. At one point


Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, invoked the Bible to defend the Trump administration’s immigration policy of separating mothers from their children.

She was speaking at Thursday’s White House briefing, in response to a question about comments made by the attorney general Jeff Sessions, where he cited a passage in the Bible to justify the policy.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” said Sessions. [...]

Sanders said: “I’m not aware of the attorney general’s comments or what he would be referencing, [but] I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is repeated throughout the Bible.” (The Guardian, 15 June 2018)

I don't think Mother Maybelle, a secondary character in Janice Sims's "A Love Supreme" (2005), would agree. Given the novella's publication date, she came into existence long before the arrival of the current US administration and cannot therefore be read as a commentary on it. All the same, Maybelle, who provided the funds to establish a 2000-strong church in Georgia, takes a strong stand in favour of keeping a family together, regardless of the legalities.

When Alex, the heroine of the novella, was fourteen, her father


died from cancer [...], and our Mom was killed by a drunk driver when I was seventeen. [...]
"What happened to you and your brother and sister after your mother was killed?" Jared asked. [...]
Alex's smile never wavered. "We perpetrated a fraud on the state of Georgia. [...] Since we were minors and had no relatives, the state had the right to put us in foster homes. I was in my senior year in high school. Sam was nine, and Vicky was twelve. After Mom's funeral, Sam, Vicky and I sat down and had a discussion. We knew the house was paid for. It seemed to us that if we could earn enough money to pay for food, electricity, and certain other incidentals, there should be no reason why we couldn't stay in the house." (27-28)

Mother Maybelle came snooping around to check on her and her siblings after their mother's death. Mother Maybelle had insisted on seeing the adult who was living with them. Alex had dragged her inside because she didn't want any of the neighbors to overhear what she had to say to her, then she'd confessed to what they'd been doing: hiding from Social Services, even when they should have been collecting their parents' Social Security payments.

After patiently listening to Alex's reasons for not getting in contact with the proper authorities, Mother Maybelle had surprised her by not turning them in. Instead, she'd insisted that they rely on her in case of emergencies, come to church every Sunday except in case of illness, and have Sunday dinner with her so she could see for herself, every week that they were fine. Even though she was a Christian woman, she'd helped them pull the wool over the government's eyes. "Sometimes," she said now, "a person has to listen to a higher power." Meaning God's rules were more important than man's. (60-61)

The novella was published in an volume titled Can I Get an Amen. In the current political context, it gets one from me.


Sims, Janice. "A Love Supreme". Can I Get an Amen. Washington, DC: Arabesque, 2005. 1-108.