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.
Sex, Murder And A Double Latte—May 2005