I thought missing a week of publishing news would mean missing a lot, but really, not so much. Catch up by checking out the new entries at the WU Google Notebook HERE. And if you haven’t yet read my titillating late-night retelling of my New-Yorker-goes-west adventures, click HERE. Leave a comment in the bucket before you go, will you? I’m feeling pathetic and lonely without Kathleen.
I also feel the great need to rant about something.
I loathe the label Chick Lit. Am I alone in this? Does anyone else read those two words and cringe? When chick lit was hot–what, five or six years ago?–I read a few books in the genre, and maybe they poisoned me. I didn’t like them. But–to each her own–it’s not the books I have a problem with: it’s the label. Just look at that picture. Does it scream light and fluffy and oh-so-cute or what? You know it does. So here’s my point:
If the book is a poignant, emotional read about coming to grips with alcoholism, it shouldn’t be called chick lit. Even if there’s a chick in it. Even if there are funny scenes. Even if it was written by a woman.
If the book is a sensitive portrayal of a woman’s coming to terms with herself during a fight with breast cancer, it shouldn’t be called chick lit. Even though the breasts come with a chick attached. Even if there are funny scenes. Even if it was written by a woman.
Am I missing something here? I get that the term was originally a spin-off of “chick flick”–which everyone knows determines if we women will have to set up a Girls Night to see a movie–but what does it mean in literature? That no male would want to read about a deeply emotional human experience that involves a female protagonist? Maybe instead of labeling the book chick lit we should just add a sticker to the cover that says, “Not for the shallow minded.”
I like what Curtis Sittenfeld of the New York Times had to say on the subject: “To suggest that another woman’s ostensibly literary novel is chick lit feels catty, not unlike calling another woman a slut — doesn’t the term basically bring down all of us?”
Come on, publishers, and do what authors do when they write in a different genre, when they’re trying to revamp their image: Change the name already. If you don’t like Women’s Fiction, choose another label. I think Damn Good Fiction, Plus Breasts (DGFPB) has a nice ring to it. But I’m just a chick.
How do you feel about the chick lit label? Do you think the industry needs to change it? Do you have a suggestion?
Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the third and final part of Kath’s conversation with Jasper Fforde. Write on, all!