I have never been shy of stating how much I loathe the term “chick lit.” Hate it. I like some of the books that term describes – and like Jane I have a massive fangirl crush on Meg Cabot. It’s preposterous, this crush. I have a serious thing… well, no, it’s probably graduated to a thaaaang for Rob Wilkins, the hero of her 1-800-Where-R-U series. Seriously one of the best heroes I’ve read in awhile. Even if the final book in the series was entirely “happily ever after and boy oh boy do we mean it” to the point where one or both of the protagonists might as well have farted My Little Ponies, I still love that character. I should stop talking about it now before I get any more creepy about it.
Anyway, one of the things I like about Cabot is that she’s unapologetic about being termed “chick lit.” In a recent PR email I received, Cabot was quoted as saying, “…I love chick-lit because it’s like real-life…she got hurt, but she bounced back, just like we do out here on Planet Earth.”
I can’t say that every novel classified under that really awful term has been akin to real life, unless it was real life on planet fantasy land, but Cabot’s got a point: there’s an element of realism in focusing on the heroine’s dark moment and how she ends up happy in the end.
Contrast that statement with this one, sent to me by alert reader Miriam, from the introduction to the 2006 anthology, This is Not Chick Lit:
“Chick lit’s formula numbs our senses. Literature, by contrast, grants us access to countless cultures, places, and inner lives…Chick lit shuts down our consciousness. Literature expands our imaginations.”
Numbs our senses? Shuts down our consciousness? DUDE. I had NO IDEA chick lit has such power. Wonder what that intro writer would say about romance in general? Can it leap tall buildings in a single bound, or generate worldwide orgasms? Because, awesome!