samedi, mars 11, 2006


Hopefully most read the title of this blog and think of the popular new genre taking our country by subtle storm...and not the tasty, crispy mint gum.

Typically, when I heard the term "chick-lit" I tossed my head back and slightly rolled my eyes in both condescenion and minor disgust. "'Chick-lit?' You mean that 'Sex & The City' spawned collection of novels that seem like they were written for a more sexually mature Seventeen magazine?" Obviously, I didn't know what I was thinking and I am ashamed. When it comes down to it, "chick-lit" is a genre of opportunity for women writers. And with that and that alone - I should be praising it's very existence.

In the patriarchal society we live in today, everything from cars to books are subject to sexism. The 'Virginia Woolf's' of the world's revolutionary contributions to history helped make it possible for women to not only have their books be publised, but to have their books read and well-received. But today, too few realize that the times haven't changed much since before women were allowed to write. Or rather, not as much as should have changed.

Writers like Chuck Palanhiuk have sometimes skirted around the loopholes, but in most cases, a writers gender, or lifestyle, will determine the genre in which the book is placed in the book business. Homosexuals and women, for example, will most often have their books automatically placed in the 'Gay/Lesbian Lit' or 'Chick-Lit' categories, accordingly, regardless of their subject matter. We can all easily understand the problem this conveys.

Works like Greg Benhrendt and Liz Tucillo's He's Just Not That Into You had personally ruined my interest in the "chick-lit" genre. Sure, I'm a lazy critic - I never read the book - but I heard tale. The premise alone was about snagging a guy...or how not to lose one. That is enough reason for me NOT to pick up a book. But, I shouldn't turn my nose up at the entire genre. Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary is good lit -- Regardless of where it is placed on the Barnes and Noble shelves.

A recent article I read in the March 2006 issue of Writer's Digest had an article discussing this very subject. Writer Jennifer Armstrong, better known for her work for Entertainment Weekly, spends most of her time cornered into the "chick-lit" world. She tackled the subject in, "Eh, You Write Like A Girl."

Armstrong broke the reasons good and bad down for the reader to better understand what's happening in the genre. The reasons looked like this: It Seems Like Anyone Can Do It; It Churns Out Good Stuff, Big and Small; Its Biggest Names Are Young and Glamorous; and It Sells Like Crazy.

Sure, It does seem like anyone can do it, but isn't that a skill to be mastered by any writer? To look like the work of creating a relatable, witty character is effortless? It Churns Out Good Stuff Sarah Dunn, Helen Fielding, and Darcy Cosper are a few names that have put out 'good stuff'. Its Biggest Names Are Young and Glamorous Which means it will be popular, right? What's wrong with selling the genre that is ours?? And It Sells Like Crazy Need I say more.

Maybe we can use "chick-lit" for us instead of compromising the opportunity. If we choose to accept "chick-lit" as something positive, we might be happy with the results: a new, powerful genre, just for the ladies...They do make up 70 percent of readers afterall. And it is my understanding that most writers' intention is to write for their audience. This isn't about gender, this is about the facts.