In the Blog

(not) chick lit

August 13th, 2006     by Thea Lim     Comments

Has anybody read This Is Not Chick Lit, a new anthology of writing that is supposed to be literary as opposed to commercial?

I was just reading an interesting interview on Alternet with Elizabeth Merritt, the anthology’s editor. Merritt argues that there is a need to defend and spotlight what she calls serious fiction by women, because the influx of Chick Lit, all started by Bridget Jones’ Diary, has taken away from serious writing by women. She states that these days, the only books written by women that are given spotlight and table space (that is, space on the big tables at the front of book stores like Chapters and Indigo) are the ones with purses and shoes on their covers.

But a scandal is raging now: chick lit writers have put together their own anthology called (can you guess?) This is Chick Lit, edited by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. These writers say they are hurt and angered by “serious women writers’” dismissal of their work as fluff. They ask - what’s so wrong with escapist fiction, especially in these hard times? And they contend (to be honest, I find this a leetle hard to believe) that chick lit does deal with pressing issues that women face, like class issues, racism and homophobia. Read contributor Rachel Pine’s thoughts on Elizabeth Merritt here.

Here’s a question for society at large though: why is it that there’s only space for one type of women writers on those sacred tables? Why is it that an increase in book sales for one group of women writers means a decrease in sales for another group of women writers? You never see Dan Brown and Jonathan Safran Foer cat fighting on the internet. I REJECT the answer that its because women naturally just love back-biting each other.

I think that it’s because while the book selling world is happy to make space for both Dan and Jonathan, they’re only willing to squeeze in one kind of lady. (And why is that? Is it because our culture is STILL inherently sexist? Aha! See! Feminism is still relevant!) It’s not surprising that publishing prefers to make room for the women who write about trying to balance bake sales with corporate ladder climbing, rather than the women who want to write deconstructions of class and gender issues.

Does anybody else here feel like women are totally set up to cat fight each other for the table scraps? Damn that patriarchy.

Tags: media savvy, news flash

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