Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tricked by Chick Lit

According to Wikipedia, the term “Chick Lit” applies to a genre of fiction that “features hip, stylish female protagonists (usually in their twenties and thirties and in urban settings) and follows their love lives and struggles for professional success (often in the publishing, advertising, public relations or fashion industry). The books usually feature an airy, irreverent tone and frank sexual themes.”

For the record, I don’t like Chick Lit. I choose not to read it, and I do not accept review copies of Chick Lit for this blog. (This is nothing against all you Chick Lit lovers out there; it’s just not my thing.) I even have a test for avoiding Chick Lit:

To identify Chick Lit, ask yourself these questions:
1. Is the cover of the book garish, cartoonish, and girly (e.g., does it prominently feature shoes, makeup, handbags, or lipstick-colored lip prints)?
2. Is the title of the book long and lighthearted (e.g., Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life)?
3. Can I buy the book in the supermarket check-out line or at an airport newsstand?
4. Does the blurb on the dust jacket or back cover use any of the following words or phrases: “feisty,” “snappy,” “stylish,” or “best friend in the whole wide world”?
5. Was the book written by Jennifer Weiner?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you’ve probably got a case of Chick Lit.

Armed with this test, how did I make the mistake of accepting a review copy of The Safety of Secrets by Delaune Michel, a book that falls squarely within the Chick Lit genre? Clearly, this is a case of Chick Lit trickery. The Safety of Secrets has all the indications of literary fiction: artsy black and white cover photo, award-winning author (Thomas Wolf Short Fiction Award, Pacificus Foundation Literary Award), a respectable title, and a serious-sounding description (“a beautifully written exploration of the bonds forged in childhood and challenged decades later, of the fulfillment of dreams and the damage they can cause, and of secrets being uncovered and the truth we find inside”). Despite all these indications, I knew I was reading Chick Lit after about 2 pages.

Out of a sense of obligation, I read The Safety of Secrets, but I’m not equipped to review it. All I can really say is that this book seems like a typical example of Chick Lit. I’m not sure if it’s a good example or a bad example, but I suspect it’s a fairly good example because I was able to finish the book. If you like Chick Lit, I bet you'll like The Safety of Secrets. If you've read this one and you generally enjoy Chick Lit, I'd be interested to hear what you thought about the book.

(And just to be clear, I don't believe there's anything inferior or unworthy about Chick Lit, or any other genre fiction for that matter. It's just not my preference.)

1 comment:

sheistoofondofbooks said...

I like your "litmus test" for Chick Lit.

I always oppose the "aiport books" (quick myster/thrillers) my husband buys while travelling - why can't he plan ahead and bring a decent selection of books, like I do?!