Friday, November 11, 2005

The Stiletto Lit Wars
You've seen them -- you've probably even bought one. Those nice trade paperbacks with a playful pink or or pastel cover, and a stylish girl or pair of stilettos somewhere in the cover art. The story is usually about a woman juggling career drama and and dating/love drama while running around between crises in stilettos shopping for designer clothes she can't really afford. It's Chick-Lit and it's a phenomenon.
Just as quickly as chick-lit has become a phenomeon, it has also become a lightning rod for criticism and derision from the literary establishment, feminists and men.
In The Australian, chick-lit author Melanie La'Brooy writes a detailed defense of the genre that is earning millions world-wide.
La'Brooy's spririted and well-argued defense of the genre doesn't quite address the severest (and most accurate) criticisms: that the genre is basically re-packaged romance novels for the Sex and the City set and that in view of the strides feminism has made in the past 40 years, the success of these novels is kind of disturbing.
Another point La'Brooy missed is that there is a metamorphosis occuring within the genre. Simon and Shuster's Downtown Press, which publishes nothing but Chick-lit, is publishing some startlingly new-fangled Chick-Lit which is combining thriller and crime elements into the genre.

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