(Illustration by Roxanna Bikadoroff
“More Titillated Than Thou.” I’ve got a new article in the summer issue of The Baffler (No. 28) about the wild popularity of Amish romance novels. It was super fun to read the books and to work again with editor Chris Lehmann who really deserves a heap of credit for making the piece as fun and punchy as it is. Thanks to The Paris Review and Arts & Letters Daily for picking it up! You can read it here, and here’s a clip:
Fiction, after all, is fiction—it offers escape from the strictures of our individual experiences and worldviews. But to enter the world of Amish fiction is to wholly leave behind the world as it exists. I don’t just mean ringing phones, CNN, computer screens, and interminable commutes—although, yes, these are technologies that the Amish live without (albeit with more exceptions than you’d imagine)—but more fundamentally, the world of crime, racism, 50 percent divorce rates, unwanted pregnancies, systemic pollution, same-sex marriage, college tuition fees, healthcare reform, endless war, and political gridlock. All the complexities of contemporary life are absent. It’s as if the evangelical authors have airbrushed their own ideal world onto the Amish vernacular, gently erasing the sharp, contested edges of the pietist denominational tradition.