Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CHICK LITERATURE


I read a fascinating rip-apart, tear-down, sassy-angry, ruefully-amazed attack on Chick Literature versus Dude Literature.

I hope, none of this matters to you. If you are thinking of writing a book, or if you've already started writing a book, skip this post.

The less you try to fit yourself into a category, these days, the better you will do, especially if you are hoping to get what you're writing published.

The author of the article that I read in Daily Beast, Laura Fraser, is snappy and amused, because a book she wrote and published, "All Over the Map," a memoir of her family and growing up, was more or less dismissed as "Chick Lit." It's a term publishers use, whereas a man's book, "Freedom," by Jonathan Franzen, about a man's relationship to his family, gets raves for being "profound," and is becoming a must-read bestseller.

Why isn't it called "Dude Lit?" Fraser wonders, as she wickedly coins another possible name -- "Dick Lit" for Franzen's book, for any male's introspective novel about growing up.

Fraser observes that these days, men (dudes), are saluted for describing their escape from the cocoon, while female (chick) revelations, about their struggle with family relationships, are compared to the current bestseller -- a prime example of Chick Lit -- "Eat Play, Love, " by Elizabeth Gilbert..

Fraser calls the book "EPL."

She seems to be caught in the male versus female stuff that's been in the air for a year or two, like a strong perfume." (I'm borrowing Fraser's image.) Laura Fraser is sardonic and peevish, because Chick Lit is expected to have references to Hermes pocketbooks and name-brand shoes, ala Sex in the City.

Of course Dude Lit (i.e Dick Lit), does often tell/re-tell the same story again, as the great male writers, Saul Bellows, Norma Mailer, and John Updike do in their various books that Fraser mischievously calls Prick Lit."

I say forget it, skip it. the only way you can write is to be you, and not try to write for women, or men, or chicks, dudes, Sex in the City heroines, or pricks.

(I met and flirted with Norman Mailer at an arty party. I picture Norman Mailer grinning, enjoying the term.)

I am advising author Laura Fraser (and any of you you has a book you've dreamed of writing) -- don't think chick-dude-dick or prick -- don't think Lit or literature.

Just write, produce the pages. Don't judge, just tell us the story. And take Em's advice, even if you're a dude. Even if you are an actor or actress -- be whatever, whoever you are.

1 comment:

Carola said...

I'm in the middle of Freedom, and I wouldn't call it Dude Lit, even though it's written by a man. Any more than I would call one of Barbara Kingsolver's books Chick Lit. They are both great authors.

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