Romance novels need a canon
"Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie
A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats. Read the whole essay.
In 1973, Oregon rode the hippie wave to became the first state in the country to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Within five years, eight other states had followed, but momentum soon lagged, and then reversed in the Reagan era.
Lately, however, it’s beginning to feel like the ’70s again, with numerous polls showing a majority of Americans in favor of legalizing marijuana and the recent referenda in Colorado and Washington to do just that.
Earl Blumenauer voted on that first decriminalization bill 40 years ago in Oregon — as a “child legislator,” he jokes — and now that he’s in Congress representing the state, he thinks we’re approaching a moment where things are about to speed up very quickly for drug policy reform advocates.
“It’s just come to a head,” he told Salon Thursday afternoon. “This is largely going to be resolved in the next five years.”
Blumenauer, along with Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, introduced legislation this week to make the federal government treat cannabis like alcohol and let states decide whether to keep it illegal. And they think they have a real chance of getting somewhere this time.
This is hardly the first time lawmakers have introduced legislation to decriminalize or legalize marijuana in Congress. Massachusetts liberal Democrat Barney Frank and Texas libertarian Republican Ron Paul worked together on a number of legalization bills, but both have now left Congress and passed the torch.
“They were very busy people with financial reform and running for president, and I think we have an opportunity this time for some added focus from a number of members of Congress,” he said, noting Frank was a lead author of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill and Paul was busy being Paul.
“I think we are in a position now to have a group of members of Congress who are able to spend a little more time and energy in a focused way on this. I think we’ve got a little bit more running room; I think our coalition is broader, and we’ve got people who have not normally been involved in this,” he added, pointing to more conservative members from Colorado who now care about marijuana after the state legalized it in the fall.
On top of his and Polis’ bills (which tax marijuana and end the federal prohibition on it, respectively), he said he anticipates “about a dozen” different pieces of legislation dealing with drug policy reform moving forward. With “a number of folks” already working together in an informal working group, he explained, “We’ve got more people working more systematically.” He declined to elaborate on other members, saying they would be making public statements in the coming months.
More modest goals include ending the federal prohibition on industrial hemp production (it’s legal to make things out of hemp, but illegal to grow it, so the fiber has to be imported), and changing the federal government’s classification of marijuana as more dangerous than cocaine or meth.
The long-term goal, however, is to get the federal government to end the prohibition on marijuana and leave it to states to regulate the drug, just as Congress did when the prohibition on alcohol ended, something that two-thirds of Americans seem to support. “I honestly think that in their heart of hearts, most members of Congress would support that,” Blumenauer said.
Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.More Alex Seitz-Wald.
"Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie
"Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie
Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower. Read the whole essay.
"A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant
A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex. Read the whole essay.
"Black Silk" by Judith Ivory
A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say. Read the whole essay.
"For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale
A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society. Read the whole essay.
"Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner
A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ... Read the whole essay.
"Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen
Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight. Read the whole essay.
"The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal
A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency. Read the whole essay.
"Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel
Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time. Read the whole essay.