The Chick Lit Controversy – Lauren Baratz-Logsted

I talked to three writers about Chick Lit and its role in literature. To each of them I posed five questions.

What does Chick Lit mean to you?

Contemporary books primarily written by and about women that have a humorous or satiric tone.

Why do you like Chick Lit novels?

I by no means like all Chick Lit novels. I like the smart ones that challenge me to think and the funny ones that just have cracking-good stories.

Is Chick Lit real literature?

My Webster’s Tenth defines literature under definition 3 as “writings in prose or verse” (Chick Lit, almost always written in prose, although I don’t recall any Chick Lit novels written in verse, definitely qualifies there), but goes on to elucidate, “especially writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest” (I’d say that, just as with any genre, plus literary fiction, Chick Lit has some books that edify in this way and some that don’t).

Does all Chick Lit live by the same format?

Absolutely not. And since, by virtue of being published by Red Dress Ink, my books are labelled Chick Lit, I’ll hold myself up as an example of nonformat Chick Lit. Most of the naysayers say Chick Lit books feature likable ditzes in their twenties who resemble the girl next door and work in the corporate world yadda yadda. Well, my first novel, The Thin Pink Line, features an often dislikable but very smart sociopath who, believe you me, you would not want to live next door to. And my third novel, just out, A Little Change of Face, is about a 39-year-old librarian who deliberately makes herself look unattractive; and, yes, I did say a librarian – a librarian in a Chick Lit novel!

Is Chick Lit becoming a loose term to categorize all women’s literature?

By no means all women’s literature, but it’s fast become an umbrella term that has lost meaning. Thinking all Chick Lit is the same is as about as useful, critically speaking, as thinking Dashiell Hammett and Carolyn Hart and Walter Moseley and on and on are all the same because they all get shelved under Mysteries.
a-change-of-face-book-cover

Read what others have to say about chick lit:

Originally published 9/26/2005 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

Visit Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s official website.

The Chick Lit Controversy – Dorothy Thompson

I talked to three writers about Chick Lit and its role in literature. To each of them I posed five questions.

What does Chick Lit mean to you?

Although I’ve heard various definitions of the word from all kinds of members of the literary sector, to me Chick Lit is like vegetable soup. Throw in some meat (attitude), a few vegetables (sub-characters such as best friends, perhaps a hunk or two), soup broth (the never-ending journey of self-discovery), and herbs (a dash or two of humor and a sprinkling of romance) and what have you got? The perfect mixture for a damn good read.

Why do you like Chick Lit novels?

Chick Lit novels takes you on a fun ride. It’s quirky, full of sass and the perfect anecdote when life takes its tolls.

Is Chick Lit real literature?

Why wouldn’t it be? To me, literature is anything you read. Sure, there are varying forms of literature just as there are various forms of anything. What’s literature to one person may not be to another, but that’s not to say it’s not “worthy.” I don’t care for dark thrillers, but is that to say it’s not worthy? Surely not. Chick Lit is a whole different banana and that’s why some critics have a hard time trying to figure them out. They’ll give a Chick Lit book a bad review, saying it’s not real literature, but what they are really saying is that they haven’t read enough of it to know what’s going on. Sure, there will be bad Chick Lit books just as there will be good ones, but the same goes for any genre.

Does all Chick Lit live by the same format?

Basically, to me, they are all about self-discovery, but they do this in different formats such as hen lit, mystery lit, lad lit, mommy lit, etc., but they all have the basic theme having the main character discover something about herself while doing it in a fun way.

Romancing-the-Soul-Book-CoverIs Chick Lit becoming a loose term to categorize all women’s literature?

I don’t think so. Women’s literature, to me, takes on a different format. I had a book I’d written that I really thought would fit into the hen lit genre, which is a sub-category of chick lit. The main character was sassy, independent, strived to make a name for herself in the world, but I had someone read some of it for me and she classified it as women’s fiction. The reason? Because it focused too much on romance. Go figure. It’s very confusing sometimes.

Read what others have to say about chick lit:

This piece was originally published 9/26/2005 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

The Chick Lit Controversy

When I bring up the topic of Chick Lit I’m often asked what Chick Lit is and am stunned by the question, wondering how they could not know. Chick Lit is after all one of the fasting growing genres and money makers.

What Chick Lit is may vary depending on the fondness of the person doing the describing but basically it’s a cutesy name for another division of women’s (chicks) literature with a little more flair. The books are fun accounts of witty, overworked and under loved women looking for better jobs and a better love life. A majority of them come from Britain. But this is just the surface story. Every Chick Lit story I’ve read also has a deeper motive driving the character, some secret from her past she still hasn’t overcome (of course there are some that do not).

While most seem to have the stereotyped friends the main character leans on for support, some of the stereotypes run true – there are a select few we tell our deepest wishes and diarist needs to. It doesn’t matter if it’s the gay guy or the beautiful model. They are there to represent the friends we love; slightly misaligned for a little comedic relief.

The onset of Chick Lit seemed to start with the hysteria surrounding Bridget Jone’s Diary. Every Chick Lit book since has been compared to it in some way, some how making it a benchmark. This limits the genre considerably and I think has been pivotal in the backlash descended upon the books and the authors who write them. There is so much more to Chick Lit than Bridget Jones. So much more than the cutesy covers. Like any genre you have to be selective in what you read because not all Chick Lit is considered equal. There’s good, there’s bad and yes there’s the ugly.

Recently, I talked to three writers about Chick Lit and its role in literature. To each of them I posed five questions. Specifically:

  • What does Chick Lit mean to you?
  • Why do you like Chick Lit novels?
  • Is Chick Lit real literature?
  • Does all Chick Lit live by the same format?
  • Is Chick Lit becoming a loose term to categorize all women’s literature?

Here’s what they had to say:

This piece was originally published 9/26/2005 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.