Chick Lit (and Grit)

Good piece by Joanna Trollope today in the Guardian about our sneering attitude to so called ‘chick lit’. Ms Trollope argues that good romantic comedy is very hard to write. Predictably in the Comment is Free section, there are loads of snotty ripostes from Guardian readers who really would rather read the Booker shortlist and feel a bit dirty when they sully their brains with a ‘chick lit’ no-brainer novel. Yeah Yeah. Try writing one first. Oh my – there are so many bitter undiscovered genius writers out there, and so many publishers and agents who obstinately refuse to recognise their inherent maverick genius.

I agree with what JT says, but also think that the term ‘chick-lit’ is a way of ghetto-ising women writers. It’s so easy to be fooled by the admittedly soppy covers of pinkly ribboned swirls and kitten heels. And yet, between those girly covers lurk themes like divorce, addiction and domestic violence. Anna Maxted’s debut novel, Getting Over It, which featured a girl in wellies, diving into a pond (??) was all about bereavement. Distinctly highbrow writer Zadie Smith wrote a glowing tribute to Marian Keyes, saying she was “one of the most important feminists in modern writing”.

It’s mad snobbery really. Would we really prefer to be caught on the tube, deep into the latest Booker, with its tasteful beige cover and misty titles? Even if it’s sending us to sleep? Give me the cracking narrative and laugh out loud lines of a good chick lit any day.

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