Chick Lit: Yay or Nay

Read here for an interesting discussion on chick lit. Are you pro or against? I haven’t made up my mind. On the one hand, I find some of the stories too simplistic, not to mention the pastel theme that publishers seem to be pushing. A pink cover with a martini glass/shoe/lipstick immediately turns me off. But on the other hand, there’s probably a wide variety of books deemed chick lit out there. It feels too snobby to dismiss an entire genre of books. An while I might not be as vehement as Maud Newton or Jessa Crispin, but I still haven’t found my experience accurately reflected in any of these books. I don’t have any deep desire to settle down and have kids. And I don’t want to climb the corporate ladder sacrificing my chances of having marrying and having kids, which again I don’t want. Yes, I am simplifying. But let’s not pretend that chick lit is an accurate representation for all women. I don’t know where I fit into this argument. It doesn’t represent me and I wouldn’t call it “literary” in the same way that Murakami is “literary”, but still….

7 thoughts on “Chick Lit: Yay or Nay

  1. jmfausti

    I’ve never been a fan of the cookie cutter chick lit, those books that are just modernized versions of my grandmother’s Harlequin Romances. I’m also not a fan of the pink covers with the modern girl icons as they seem to be, high heels/martini glasses/lipstick. Bookstores now have what amounts to the equivalent of the Barbie aisle in toy stores.

    On the other hand, like every other, there are good examples in the genre. I find myself hoping they will be gateway books to better things for women who wouldn’t otherwise be reading. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if “Bridget Jones’ Diary” were to lead people to the original, “Pride and Prejudice”?


  2. bookdwarf

    True true. It’s the same sort of thing with Harry Potter I suppose. I wish the publishing industry would realize that making books pastel actually turns a lot of people off. It’s like business book covers—why do they have to be so damn ugly?


  3. mtte.

    I wonder if ardent readers of chick lit might have the same argument, e.g. “well, there are a few good examples of gothic novel that aren’t so bad” or “gad, those Surrealists were a little arrogant, thoughtless… still, I suppose there was that one…” I think the real problem with ‘chick lit’ is how quickly we were to establish it as genre– the pink-jacketed explosion and yuppiphiliac anecdotes are almost self-perpetuating.

    As far as the texts themselves, the message, the mores or lack thereof, the potential for regressivism, I’d think we’re all safe so long as we stay far away from them. Why bother arguing about their impact, when they sit on the shelves next to courtroom suspense thrillers, horror swill, sci-fi nonce, paperback romance, ad naus. Why villify chick lit? Because we’ve labelled the genre with the coveted “lit?” As long as we stay far away from those shelves, eventually they’ll migrate toward the Harlequins, and we’ll be inured to them. Right?

    (That said, if I ever came into contact with an “arden reader of chick lit,” I might be compelled to her with Wake The Hell Up ferocity)


  4. Lauren Baratz-Logsted

    Like with any other genre, plus literary fiction, some of the books are quite good, a lot of them suck.

    Regarding the plethora of pink covers, I wanted a pool table or a Van Gogh print on my last book, but no one in marketing was listening; I’ve also noticed books by men lately with pink covers and the covers of some female literary titles are getting awfully chicky lately.

    What is most fascinating to me, I think, is how ardently some Lits throw stones at Chicks. Do they really think we wake up each morning and decide, “Today I will become the literary equivalent of the Anti-Christ”?


  5. bookdwarf

    I might be wrong, but I bet we can blame the whole pastel thing on the marketing execs. I can tell they are behind it—they seem think that all people fit into these neat, little categories that they assign. “All women love lipstick, and pink! Henceforth, all books with women as the main characters will have these items on the cover.” It’s crap.

    And as for becoming the Anti-Christ, I bet no one wakes up choosing to become it, it’s more of a slow slide? Just kidding. Tastes vary. That’s it short and sweet. Some people want gothic horrow stories, some want robots in outer space, some want tea towel fiction.


  6. bookdwarf

    I think Maud Newton may have coined the term. Here’s the quote:
    But I, for one, have grown weary of what, in honor of Orange Prize judge Katharine Viner, I’ll call tea-towel fiction. Earlier this summer, Viner offered this description of many MFA graduates’ novels that she read while judging a fiction contest:

    “They are books with 500 pages discussing a subtle but allegedly profound shift within a relationship. They are books where intricate descriptions of a man taking a glass out of the dishwasher, taking a tea-towel off a rail, opening out the tea-towel, then delicately drying the glass with the tea-towel, before pouring a drink into the glass, signify that he has just been through a divorce.”


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