If you're a chick-lit fan, please leave a comment below. You won't change my mind, but I'd love to see you try.
I keep hearing chick-lit lovers say the books are, like, so real. Okay, that scares me. Aren't they supposed to be satire? How many of the readers are getting that?
How many of the authors get that? Not a lot, from where I sit. Which is why I wasn't surprised to learn today that part of the genre that has always taken itself too seriously is trying to edge into the realm of "serious" self-help.
Hey, I was young once. I remember life back then, when everything was always about me. (With maturity you learn not be so painfully obvious about that.) If somebody wrote a novel poking fun at that kind of navel-gazing I would probably like it. But chick-lit authors have failed to arouse my interest because they try too hard to make their stories not just funny and smart, but "real". It's that pretention that turns me off.
Now it's getting even worse. Now there's a new generation of chick-lit, one that's taking itself even more seriously, because it's seriously offering lifestyle advice.
...female empowerment is about as meaningful in these books as it is in Jane and Cosmo. The Bridget-Sex [chick-lit] genre traffics in fiction while claiming to represent real life, and its greatest invention is that being a woman today is about incompetence and humiliation. Wacky anecdotes about dates with anal-obsessives and men who refuse to touch their lovers are supposed to be funny; beach-bag diversion for the emotionally traumatized. It’s fantasy packaged as self-improvement.
Remember Sex and the City? Women didn't laugh at that TV show, they bought the City girls' clothes, copied their hairstyles, started drinking Manhattans and "taking charge" of their lives. What was offered as entertainment was eagerly accepted as lifestyle advice. We've been seeing the same thing happen with the chick-lit novels; perhaps it was only a matter of time before chick-litty fluff was actually marketed as self-help books.
Back to chick-lit novels and why I don't like them. I've read Marian Keyes. Three of her books, as a matter of fact. While they were entertaining, that was because of Keyes's intelligence and wit and her wonderful way with words, not the subject matter. I prefer to think that most real-life people are a whole lot less shallow and self-absorbed than the ones in her books.
I didn't think Bridget Jones was all that cute or clever. Different, yes, but absolutely not worth the long ride it's had and all the imitations it has spawned. I realize I'm in the minority here. It's a fact that women are buying chick-lit as fast as publishers can ship the books. But I just don't get it.
And what I really don't get is why, when I saw yet another article on chick-lit, I clicked through and started reading. I don't need this subject running around in my head all day.
So I'm dumping it on you. Here. Go read this at CBC. Or at least click on the link so you can see the subheading and the great illustration.
Chick lit — in its original form and the new version 2.0 — can be liberating. Its success is a response to the smothering, simple-feminist notion that all our representations of women have to be ideal, that romance is a female rocket scientist and her stay-at-home mixed-race partner doing dishes together. But it’s bleak to think that the alternative to political correctness is this false, never-ending depiction of women’s lives as frivolous. Our preoccupations are not just shopping and sex, and our problems aren’t solvable with a wink and giggle and a new pair of shoes. Honey, sweetie, darling, a word of advice: please keep your fiction away from my reality.
I have given chick-lit a fair trial, and now I am rejecting it. Will somebody please point me to the novels for grownups?