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Irene Lo

Why I Don’t Like Buying Romance Novels

Now that summer is here, I find myself dipping into a bodice-ripper now and then. As a university student, I shouldn’t admit to this guilty pleasure. After all, what does it say about me that I enjoy a repetitive formula? Nothing complimentary, I’m sure. But you’d be surprised by how many New York Times bestselling romance authors are university graduates, and even more so that the romance genre is holding the publishing market by the cojones. It almost has me thinking of suitably titillating titles for my own yarns, of finding some way into this Faustian game… until I realize that I couldn’t show anyone my books because it’s going to have on the cover a half-dressed couple dry-humping.The thing is, there is nothing wrong with romance unless we’re talking about the cover because, boy, is it all downhill from there. All my paranoid worries of being judged are justified when I go into a bookstore and stand contemplating the explicit covers that announce to the world my low intellect and need for trashy entertainment. It is almost horrifying how obvious some covers are in proving that they do indeed belong to the romance genre. I bought one entitled Lady Sophia’s Lover. In smaller letters, it says, “a novel of seduction,” as if the image of a voluptuous blonde being groped by the man behind her is too subtle a hint. There are other novels that try to be more discreet, meaning that Fabio is not on the front or back but inside the book – the first page after the cover. So now only the cashier and I know that what I’m reading is certified smut. I wonder why this picture is necessary. I must lack imagination to read a romance but am I that incapable of conjuring up Mr. Muscles and Damsel in Distress in… Read More

My new Facebook friend goes to elementary school

During an educational summit in California, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke about how important it is for kids to learn how to network, even in elementary school. More specifically, he wants children under the age of 13 to be legally able to create accounts on social networking sites, allegedly because it will further their education and allow them to build networks that may later help them to find jobs. Now that I think about it, of course the hours I spend scrolling down my newsfeed  has built on my G.P.A.Zuckerberg also suggests that if children could go on Facebook, it would be adapted to suit them. One possibility would be encouraging younger users to study when they see their peers studying online. However, in the reality that exists outside Zuckerberg’s mind, the actual skills that children will be learning include how to post advantageous photographs of themselves and how to efficiently cyber-stalk friends and acquaintances—all unnecessary activities for kids to learn.But how wonderful it is that Zuckerberg is trying to give Facebook a higher calling when, in reality, all I use it for and all I can conceive of using it for is as a conscious waste of time. Needless to say, students will be happy to know that Facebook could form a serious part of education reform, because not only is social networking more important than reading or writing—it’s the secret ingredient to success.“Networking” is such a loaded term nowadays that, for me, it conjures up illusions of a glamorous city lifestyle, inhabited by the young and beautiful simultaneously making money and connections. It’s the new catchphrase for ambitious bourgeois. He networks. Networking is the most important thing you can do in university.These conversations pepper my daily existence. They’re always said as though I’m being handed down the gospel. And they’re oh-so-worrying… Read More

Creepy celebrities – Casey Anthony?

Reuters recently reported on a pre-Halloween celebrity poll that found Casey Anthony to be 2nd creepiest celebrity in America. Casey Anthony, or “Tot Mom” as prominent CNN legal commentator Nancy Grace patronizingly refers to her, was the Floridian mother on trial earlier this year for first-degree murder of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee. The jury found her not guilty of that charge, a stunning verdict that shocked a nation sure of her guilt after a highly publicized, six week long trial chock-full of scientific evidence, cobbled theories and contentious murky areas.The Casey Anthony case makes me wish I had worked in an office between May to July, because the water cooler gossip would have satisfied my bloodlust in a way that “liking” the I Hate Casey Anthony Facebook page just could not. Florida’s Sunshine Laws allows for governmental proceedings to be made accessible to the public, which means that such materials as jailhouse tapes, party photographs, police interviews and emergency 911 calls are open to the people. As a follower of the Casey Anthony trial, it was this - along with compulsive watching of HLN – that almost made me believe I knew Casey Anthony personally.The prosecution and defense presented two very different versions of Caylee’s death. According to one account, Caylee was murdered by her mother; according to the other one, Caylee died of accidental drowning. Casey is troubled, but it is not her fault. Or is it?According to anyone who has invested their time in the trial, it is. Flick through photographs taken of Casey during the time Caylee went missing because the imaginary nanny (“Zanny the nanny”) had taken her away, and you will be disturbed. The defense claimed that the sexual abuse Casey endured as a child from her father and brother, George and Lee Anthony respectively,… Read More