Saturday, July 09, 2005

"Literary Bonbons"

Read this new article that dismisses lad lit off the cuff and damns chicklit with faint praise. (Via Arts & Letters Daily.)
It also makes explicit the struggle that many critics are having coming to terms with chick-lit as a genre: a struggle, in my estimation, that has ideological cause and which comes from an (again, in my estimation, unnecessary) essentialist attitude toward the books and their themes.
So what's the moral of the story? There's good chick lit and bad chick lit, just as there's good literary fiction and bad literary fiction - and maybe these labels are useless, anyway. I can hardly count the number of times I've read reviews that say, basically, "This book is chick lit, but never mind, read it anyway, it's great!" I wrote something like that myself, last summer, when I raved about Sarah Dunn's first novel, "The Big Love," which has just come out in paperback and which I would recommend in a heartbeat. The plot is nothing unusual - girl loses boy, girl has fling with cute boss, girl gets boy back and has to decide what to do with him - but the narrator's voice is so engaging that it lifts the book right out of the run-of-the-mill and into the perfect-reads category.

5 comments:

maggie said...

The article seems to say that Chick Lit is not "literature".

Kristen said...

Here's a definition of chick-lit by Diane Goodman (an associate professor at Allegheny College and a writer of chick-lit):

"Chick-lit is hip, stylish, confident and sharp -- it's also honest and very brave. It battles and conquers the term Chick; it explores, explains, sometimes gives into and sometimes blows away the notion of a chicklet, trapped by birth to imprint its parents; it is sexual and sensual in dear or savage or shocking ways. And it proves itself structurally, lyrically, and formally as lit-erature."

She's also views chick-lit as postfeminist...in the sense that it is "subsequent" to feminism, but also "after" feminism.

Goodman also describes the characters in Chick-lit:

"Many of these characters don't feel compelled to choose a single way to be: they don't feel the ultimatum to give in to tradition or to break completely away. The characters are a study in contrasts at once -- brave and terrified, clear and confused, beautiful and ugly, smart and stupid, mean and kind."

She also calls chick-lit a from that is "proudly on the edge of the genre [of new fiction]", and with it's "reinvented forms" it can "accommodate new messages, meanings."

This info is taken from the web site:
www.altx.com/ebr/ebr3/diane.htm

maggie said...

Great article. Thanks Kristen

maggie said...

Also, I know the article talks about post-feminism, but what is that? I, too, found an article I like but then read that it is written by a feminist. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against feminism any more than I am against masculinism. But is there not a way of reading that is neither of these ways and at the same time does justice to the text? Maybe post-feminism is it if I knew what it was.

maggie said...

Also, I know the article talks about post-feminism, but what is that? I, too, found an article I like but then read that it is written by a feminist. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against feminism any more than I am against masculinism. But is there not a way of reading that is neither of these ways and at the same time does justice to the text? Maybe post-feminism is it if I knew what it was.