Despite periodic rants from literary critics that chick lit shouldn't be allowed in print and fearful speculation from chick-lit writers that the genre has peaked, this trendy offshoot of romance is alive and well and filling local bookstores with pink cover art. In fact, the form has prospered so enormously that nearly every sector of popular fiction hopes to institute its own particular version.
Well, that sounds very nice. Chick lit continues to prosper. But wait. Have you clicked over to the article yet? When you do, you'll see this in bold print under the headline:
Is chick lit on the way out? Don't bet your Blahniks. Instead, the genre has branched out into surprising new arenas, offering great opportunities for aspiring novelists—and even nonfiction writers.
Yes, of course they had to bring up shoes, didn't they? Because we are, after all, talking about chick lit. And people hear "chick lit" and think "shoes" just like they hear "romance novel" and think "bodice-ripper." That's why this raised my eyebrows:
What has changed is the reader's appreciation for the depth of character and circumstances that this topic can cover, [literary agent Nadia] Cornier says. "The novels are no longer just about owning that great pair of shoes. Chick lit, in all its recently varied forms, focuses on women's lives and tribulations in a fun-filled way
Strange. A few years ago, if you had dared to suggest the novels were about little more than self-absorbed, cappucino-guzzling young women searching for the perfect designer handbag, chick lit fans would have swarmed over you and pecked you until you promised to show some respect for their genre. Chick lit is not just about owning that great pair of shoes, they shrilled back then. Chick lit comes in varied forms and focuses on women's lives and tribulations in a fun-filled way.
Now we're being told that chick lit is here to stay because it has grown; it has moved beyond its former giddy focus on shopping and shoes.
I'm confused. Either chick was exactly what some of us accused it of being or it was not. And if it wasn't all about the shoes, then why are the people who love it so eager to to have us believe the genre has grown up?
Chick lit lovers and haters, have your say in the comments.
UPDATED 2:38 PM (EST)
A just received an e-mail from Christian chick lit author Kristin Billerbeck, who said this Writer's Digest article, which carries a dateline of February 11, 2008, is in fact a few years old. She was interviewed for the article and was quoted in it, but I didn't see that because the article is showing up in my browser (even after refreshing) as a single page--and Kristin is not mentioned on the first page.
To get some idea of just how old the article might be, I looked up a couple of the book titles it mentions. They were published in 2004.
I can't imagine why WD would run an old article under a new dateline, but there it is.