From Crime Reads:
I love romance. I loved it long before I ever fell in love, and romance narratives served as a kind of template for my own early love-affairs. I filled out diaries with imagined meet-cutes between my crushes and me, assigning them lines I had read some other, more sophisticated love interest say. All romance narratives are, on some level, a story about two people coming to a profound understanding of each other over time, and as an adolescent who wanted desperately to be seen, there was nothing more delicious to me.
There was also very little else for me when I was a kid. Most of the media I consumed as a teenage girl ended with a kiss.
. . . .
There was a sense that life ended with that kiss, that it was also a death. You could fall in love, get married, and have a kid, and after that there weren’t any more stories about you worth telling, at least on TV or in books. Romance novels in particular usually ended there, with the kiss or the wedding or the baby, and the other kinds of stories I could find were mostly about men.
. . . .
Over the years, the women’s fiction section was overtaken in popularity by the mystery/thriller section, and women’s names and faces dotted the covers where there had once been mostly men. I found these books just when I needed them. At twenty, I had ticked off all the boxes on the plan I’d made for my life: high school, university, a job I didn’t hate, the end. At some point in there I was also supposed to fall in love. I had succeeded on every count, and it felt as though, if my life were a story, the focus would be sliding off me right about then and skimming into the sunset. I know it’s stupid. I was twenty. But that’s how it felt.
So when I started reading mysteries, I felt so relieved to encounter stories of the in-between. Like the women’s fiction I had read as a kid, they were stories wherein the protagonist came to a profound understanding of herself over time, but unlike those books, these realizations were sometimes uncomfortable and damning, and very few of them resulted in a cheerful ending.
. . . .
All mysteries revolve around a secret of some kind, and the women in the mysteries I read often behaved in ways I recognized from queer classics like City of Night and The Price of Salt: obsession with strangers, appointments kept at night or in disguise, suspicion of the behavior of others for hidden motives.
The narrative eye was so different. Maybe that’s why many of these covers, including my own, The Better Liar, feature single, staring eyes. Women watched each other in these books, and themselves, in ways I had never read before.
From The Hidden Things by Jamie Mason: A whole silent, hidden life was inside her body waiting, vigilant, to be called on. There were worlds within worlds. The layers between them broke away like sugar glass when they needed to.
Link to the rest at Crime Reads