Chick Lit: The Lighter Side Of Feminism

So far things are looking good for Sex, Murder And A Double Latte. Orders from bookstores are strong and a few different publications have decided to review it. The only stumbling block my publicist has come across is that some critics steadfastly refuse to review chick-lit. Murder mysteries are fine but if the novel is sandwiched between a pink cover or weighted down with a sassy title they’ll pass, thank you very much.

I’m assuming the main concern is that chick-lit is escapist literature. For the most part that’s true. So are almost all murder mysteries. For that matter Steven King writes escapist literature (granted the place you escape to is kind of hellish and terrifying but I don’t think anyone reads him with hopes of getting new insights into life and the world we live in).

But many critics feel that Chick Lit takes the escapism factor a step too far. They point out that most Chick Lit books are about a woman who is unsatisfied with her job, worried about her weight and freaked out about not finding a man to share her life with. While I can honestly say that Sex, Murder And A Double Latte doesn’t deal with any of these issues I will admit that more often than not these are the main plot points of Chick Lit novels. But what I don’t understand is why these concerns are considered trivial. Do these reviewers understand that this is the stuff that has spawned the Prozac revolution?

How many times have we watched friends throw themselves into abusive relationships because they’re afraid of being alone? How many millions are tempted to hit the bottle every time they step on a scale? How many gals fall into a low-lying depression because their boss bares a disturbing resemblance to Mussolini?

Typically a Chick Lit protagonist is one of these “neurotic” women who frets this kind of stuff. We are treated to her self-deprecating humor, we feel for her when she makes all the wrong choices based on her misguided priorities, and we see her slowly gain a better understanding of herself. By the end of the novel the protagonist is stronger, more independent, and she has learned to respect herself as a person; and while she may (or may not) have found a man to love she doesn’t need that relationship in order to be okay.

Before Bridget Jones these books were so few and far between that most women would have been hard pressed to even name one, let alone a publishing house that specialized in them. When they were written they were usually marketed as serious literature. The tone of these books was often much more serious and thus less appealing to the majority of women who could have most benefited from reading them. Now single thirty-somethings are less likely to compare themselves to social pariah’s and more likely to compare themselves to one of the women on Sex, And The City.

Call me crazy, but in my mind that’s not so trivial.

Kyra Davis
www.kyradavis.com
Sex, Murder And A Double Latte—May 2005

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7 Comments

  1. Marisa

    March 10, 2005

    I say “hooray” for chick lit! I LOVE Red Dress Ink books (my favorite – On The Verge) and cannot WAIT for your book to come out! Thanks for offering young women, like myself, great entertainment.

  2. kyradavis

    March 10, 2005

    Thanks Marisa,

    I’m so glad you enjoy reading Chick Lit because God knows I love writing it!

  3. Janette

    March 12, 2005

    Chick lit is great… I often enjoy it over other things. I agree that it is wrong to just group books into this category and not review them because they think they will be same as the rest. Each author’s unique style and voice is what makes the books different and refreshing from other more ‘serious’ categories lit. I can’t wait for your book… I’m sure it will be wonderful!

  4. Evelina

    March 12, 2005

    Kyra, I love reading and writing chick lit. It’s discouraging to know that there are some people out there that just don’t get it. There’s something out there for everyone. If someone doesn’t like it then they don’t have to buy it/read it. I personally do not like reading Steven King (although I sincerely appreciate and do not deny his talent). It’s just not my thing. What if a publisher would’ve turned him down? Keep writing it, ’cause I’ll keep reading it!

  5. kyradavis

    March 13, 2005

    You know, I’m not one to scream sexism at the drop of a hat but I think in this case it’s a factor. Look at the NY Times Best Sellers List. Look at the NY Times Best Seller’s list. Of the top 35 paperback books 19 were written by female authors. Yet of those books only 3 received an actual review from the Times. On the other hand six of the 16 men on that list got reviewed. So it’s not too shocking that the books within the Chick Lit genre are being dismissed by some critics.

  6. Alisa Lynn Valdes

    March 18, 2005

    Reviewers are idiots. Get used to it.

    Alisa

  7. kyradavis

    March 20, 2005

    Forget all my euphemisms— Alisa’s answer is more succinct and basically sums up my point.

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