Saturday, September 02, 2006

Can literary fiction save America?

Yesterday Galleycat's Ron Hogan answered the shrill rantings of yet another chick lit hater. But he needn't have bothered. Most of us recognize hilariously stupid tirades when we see them, and we can be counted on to accord them the disrespect they deserve. This one, published in dig, a weekly paper out of Boston, was deliciously headlined "Chick Lit is Hurting America" (yes, really) and appeared under the not terribly surprising byline of "Anonymous." Put your coffee cups down, kids, so you don't blow hot latte out your noses when you read the article's concluding paragraph:

The truth is that chick lit is bad for America because it’s bad for ambitious, literary writers, male or female. And that means it’s bad for all of us. As America increasingly devalues intellectual rigor, education and compassion, it becomes harder and harder to find a good book. And believe me—the ex-fiction editor—it’s not because they’re not out there. It’s because the market is saturated by bad writers claiming to rep for all women, crowding the bookshelves, making sure their one marginal, vapid story is produced ten million times over, like some pretty pink version of hell.

Wow. Does it sound to you like this "ex-fiction editor" might be miffed because she just received another rejection letter on the literary novel she slaved over every weekend during the years she collected paychecks for editing chick lit books? Poor thing.

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Kat Campbell said...

Holy cow! There's room for every kind of book on the shelves. If not for chick lit, I'd never have gotten my teenaged daughters to read anything. Sour grapes, good thing exfiction editor is out of the business!

pacatrue said...

It's hard to believe this person was an editor in a publishing house, because it sounds like they believe chick lit authors own the publishing houses and the bookstores themselves. Apparently, Jane Green is out there forcing all those people to buy her books so much so that other books can't get on the shelf. I was always under the bizarre impression that both lit and chick lit authors sat in a room at their home working for months or years on a novel, sent a query letter out, and hoped for the best. According to anonymous, the chick lit author's aunt appears to be a Vice President at Random House. All of them. Couldn't anonymous at least blame the aunt? That makes a wee bit of sense.

Brenda Coulter said...

Yeah, that was the strangest article I've seen in a long time. Somebody needs to sober up. Or perhaps take some anger-management classes. I don't enjoy chick lit, but to suggest that it's hurting America is ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

It's not really that ludicrous. Books that further promote a way of life in which consumerism is the key to happiness are not really good for us as a country. It's a dead end street, and not exactly a traditional Christian value.

And I'm writing this anonymously, because I've seen what lengths the defenders of Chick Lit will go to, and I'm not interested.

Brenda Coulter said...

I hear you, Anonymous, but the article wasn't about chick lit promoting consumerism. It was about chick lit cheating the more "literary" books out of their "fair share" of shelf space.