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Chick Lit: Reading For Sanity

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The other day I heard an interesting piece on the radio about Jonathan Franzen's literary accolades and the lady writers who were up in arms. Rightfully so, I might add for while Jonathan Franzen's epic novel "The Corrections" was a brilliantly crafted gem, he is so lauded that the multitude of female authors who also write for and about families and family life and much more prolifically feel he has overshadowed them and virtually rendered them invisible by virtue of his being male. I haven't read his latest tome, but am certain it will be wonderful.

One of the female authors was disgusted, stating that the literary critics seem to feel that when Johathan Franzen writes about family life he's observing something nuanced and subtle about American, but when women write about family life, they're just being emotional.

I understand this.

I also understand that the "chick lit" genre or, as they can be more colorfully described, books by, about and for women has been undervalued by mainstream literary circles for years. It is rarely, if ever taken seriously as a real literary genre and the fiery debate has burned on for years.

My take on this is one of love and affection verging on worship. Chick lit has saved my life. Therefore, to me, it is possibly the most valuable of all literary genres. The fact that it is not valued or undervalued by mainstream literary society bothers me not one iota, in fact, it reinforces to me how radical it really is. These authors, Marian Keyes, Katie Fforde, Jane Green, Sophie Kinsella and so many others have brought me back, literally, from the brink of emotional death, from depression, from self loathing and life loathing so profound at times I thought I would weep continually for years.

The fact that they are not lauded does not matter. What does matter is that they change women's lives for the better, every single day, with every single page. They validate women, they go into the small moments that mainstream society may term meaningless, dumb or without value.

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Very interesting article...I have loved "chick lit" for years. I suppose the books written by men is so lauded because they are stepping outside themselves and writing about something they are an observer of as opposed to something they know first hand. I agree that does not discount the merits of women's literature. I have read most of the Kinsella books, and loved them. I also loved books by Lisa Jewell, Jennifer Weiner, and Laurie Notaro. Can't forget Helen Fielding too. I call them my "beach reads," because they're just fun and funny books that are easy to get through. I'm not into the classic "Harlequin"-type romance novels. I also liked male writers, such as "Love Monkey" by Kyle Smith, and the Nick Hornby books. I've never read Franzen. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for your article. Great topic!

September 6, 2010 - 8:35am
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