Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chick Lit: Revised for the Recession, But How About for Life?

This piece on Double X, written by self-proclaimed chick lit novelist Sarah Bilston, asks some critical questions about the genre. What does this mean in a era where women are getting laid off? They can't be freewheeling-independent-yet-looking-for-the-perfect-man women in an era where they have to worry about their finances?

Bilston didn't ask the really essential questions about the genre of chick lit (for obvious reasons). It's sometimes not particularly encouraging when you look at the plots of these books. Perusing an Amazon "chick lit best sellers" list reveals the plots are all roughly the same. Almost every book that falls into the chick lit category ends with the heroine falling in love with (and usually getting married to) the man of her dreams.

The Publisher's Weekly summary of LoveHampton:
In Rifkin's dazzling debut, Manhattanite media pro Tori Miller shares a posh Hamptons summerhouse with five upwardly mobile 30-somethings. Wanting out of the depressing slide her life takes after being dumped by her first love and losing her dream job, Tori starts MillerWorks, her own TV production company. Still, Tori's depressed, bringing about an intervention staged by her loyal employees, Jerry and Jimmy, her best friend Alice and the Transformation Trio—three make-over experts who use Tori as the pilot subject for their new reality TV show. Tori flirts with a glamming lifestyle, and her fling with George, a rich playboy with a publicist, while she's also secretly canoodling with a housemate, banker Andrew Kane, is a recipe for disaster. Tori must think fast on her borrowed Manolos, especially when Cassie Dearborn, her new friend and housemate, needs help with her own disastrous Hampton hijinxs.
From the description of Confessions of a Beauty Addict:

Bella Hunter may be down but she's not out yet—and she's ready to take on the world of beauty...one bad makeover at a time.

Pity the poor twenty-eight-year-old beauty expert and columnist for ultra-chic Enchant√© magazine, knocked right out of her Jimmy Choos—and out of a job—when her off-the-cuff comment to a reporter is blown way out of proportion. Once the authority on style, Bella's reduced to taking a position at Womanly World, a publishing dinosaur of no interest whatsoever to any woman under fifty. Suddenly she's got to take orders from a dreary and dowdy beauty director—and is soon at war with her male publisher, who might actually be appealing if he wasn't so totally frosty.

Bella's supermodel boyfriend, a hometown wedding, and a Paris junket are fine distractions, to be sure. But how can she face her friends and ex-coworkers now that she's stuck in an office where khaki—not Cavalli—is the way of life? And if beauty's not what it's all about...then what is?

From the description of The Naked Truth:
Falling in love is never easy, but there's nothing like it to keep a woman on her toes. There are no rules to romance-and usually the only way to get a little is to take the plunge. In these fabulous original stories, four acclaimed authors deliver the whole truth and nothing but the truth about four bold women who risk it all to win at the unpredictable game of love.
I could go on, but you get the gist. The women in these plots are social climbers and Prince Charming chasers. At least in Jacqueline Suzanne's Valley of the Dolls there was a dystopia to these women's marriages. Each of these novels are, in some thinly veiled way, the same narrative of a woman looking for fulfillment and finding love. They all seem obsessed with designer shoes, bags, and clotes. Not to hate on love and materialism, but couldn't they come up with something more interesting?

1 comment:

Melvin said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
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Melvin
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