Written by: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor
Now, this is going to sound strange coming from someone who previously defended her love of chick flicks, but I absolutely cannot stand chick lit.
Before I step onto my soapbox here, I guess I should clarify my terms: “Chick Lit” is a subgenre of romantic fiction that has a (usually Caucasian) female protagonist who is generally between the ages of 28 and 38—old enough to want to settle down, but young enough to still be appealing. She is pretty, but relatable. She is a successful career woman in the “big city”—which, in chick lit terms, pretty much always means New York or London. But she has been unlucky in love, and now she is desperately trying to find “the one.” There is usually shopping involved at some point, either for ridiculously expensive shoes or designer label handbags. I have no problem with romantic stories or fluffy fiction; I read both on a regular basis. What bothers me is that there is an entire subgenre of fiction devoted to women whose lives are devoted to man-hunting and crass consumerism.
Unlike chick flicks, which can be written/directed by anyone, chick lit is universally written by women. Take The Notebook: as a movie, it is unabashedly a chick flick. Yet the book is not considered chick lit. Why? Primarily because it was written by Nicholas Sparks, and because it doesn’t fit into the narrow story template described above. Increasingly, when I look for interesting, complex fiction written by women, I find chick lit, with their pastel blue and pink covers that look more appropriate for a nursery than a bookstore. Is this what’s expected from women in literature nowadays?
Not all women like clothes or shopping; I would wear pajamas to work if I could, and I buy most of my shoes at Payless. Not all women live in upscale apartments in posh metropolitan areas. And not all women spend their lives looking for men. Some women—dare I say it—are even perfectly happy being single. They’re fulfilled by other things in their lives, and they don’t need men to complete them.
So fuck you, Carrie Bradshaw, Bridget Jones, et al. Here in the real world, women don’t have to spend their lives chasing after that elusive soulmate at the end of the rainbow. We are way more interesting than that.
And someday, hopefully, the literary world will catch up with us.
**end of rant**
Selected Book Releases, October 20-26
Against Medical Advice: One Family’s Struggle with an Agonizing Medical Mystery by James Patterson and Hal Friedman—Is James Patterson a machine? He comes out with a new book about what, every two weeks now? I would kill for his work ethic…or his money! This book was co-written by Hal Friedman, who struggled for years with his son, Cory’s, Tourette’s Syndrome.
Extreme Measures by Vince Flynn—A thriller about a counterterrorism operative in the CIA.
Dark Summer by Iris Johansen—From what I can find, this seems to be a romantic paranormal thriller about a veterinarian. I’m all about mixing genres, but sheesh!
Martha Stewart’s Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook by Martha Stewart—What I want to know is when Martha Stewart is going to write a book about making a shive out of paper mache.
Testimony by Anita Shreve—A novel about a sex scandal at a prestigious New England boarding school.
Bones by Jonathan Kellerman—The 23rd book in the Alex Delaware crime novel series.
The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan—The author of Marley and Me writes a memoir about his childhood in Detroit.
Rough Weather: A Spenser Novel by Robert B. Parker—Is it just me, or are there a lot of series books coming out this week. However, given my rant against chick lit (see above), I do love the chick-lit spoofing cover on the book.
Spain… A Culinary Road Trip by Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow—Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow? Seriously? Not a pair I would think of as collaborators. Companion novel to the PBS series. So buy this book, and support public television.
Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom—A book about people’s neurological responses to advertising and marketing.
The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike—A sequel to Updike’s 1984 novel, The Witches of Eastwick.
The Way I Am by Eminem—The guy hasn’t released an album since 2004. Do we really need a book?
More Information Than You Require by John Hodgman—The guy who plays the stodgy PC in the Mac ads has written a book. Huh?