I am cranky. Two main things are contributing to this state.
1. As some of you may have noticed my site has been down on and off today. Grrr. Also for the last two days my email has been mostly down. Double Grr.
2. Maureen Dowd.
To try and uncranky myself I sat down to read today’s New York Times. I carefully skipped the newsy parts cause they often cause crankiness to multiply. Unfortunately, the first thing I read was Maureen Dowd’s breathtakingly stupid column about chicklit.
Bloody hell! What a morass of ignorance and misinformation. On the one hand, she’s trying to say that all chick lit sucks. On the other, she talks about books like Sylvia Plath’s The Belljar and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet being rebranded in pink. Presumably, she does not think those texts are worthless.
As it happens many books are billed as chicklit that are not, and some that are, well, they’re very bloody good (Love Walked In for instance).
Dowd starts by talking about chicklit’s invasion of the serious adult literature shelves (Heels over Hemingway! Run for the hills!). But the only text she quotes is a young adult title, Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging. Of course it sounds young! Its protag is a teenager! It was written for the twelve years old and up market. It’s also bloody funny. But Dowd is too pure of mind to have noticed. Sloppy journalism much?
And then there’s this:
Giving the books an even more interchangeable feeling is the bacholerette party of log-rolling blurbs by chick-lit authors. Jennifer Good in Bed Weiner blurbs Sarah Mlynowski’s Me vs Me and Karen McCullah Lutz’s The Bachelorette Party. Lauren Weisberger blurbs Emily Something Borrowed Giffin.
Stop the bleeding presses. Someone in the same genre is blurbing someone else in the same genre? Oh. My. God. It must be stopped.
But wait! Here is the back of a Peter Carey book. He is blurbed by Salman Rushdie. They both write mainstream literature that gets reviewed and lauded by the NYT. They know each other! Another freaking conspiracy.
Hmm, I wonder why the publishing industry would do something so bizarre as have people in the same genre blurb each other? Could it be because folks who’ve read Jennifer Weiner are the folks likely to enjoy Sarah Mlynowski? And those who love Salman Rushdie may well get into Peter Carey? No, that can’t be it.
Here are my questions:
Why the endless deriding of this genre? Why aren’t there people getting het up about the pernicious influence of techno thrillers? Some of those are shockingly written, but I’ve never seen a columnist lose any sleep over how well those books sell, or the fact that they’re mostly written and read by men. In all genres there are many badly written books. Including mainstream literature. What makes chicklit so evil?
Also how come it counts as journalism to walk around a bookshop mouthing off ignorantly about a genre you know nothing about, grabbing three dozen of them to take home, flip through, and then mock in your newspaper column?
Why did it not occur to Dowd to interview some of the writers, editors, publishers and consumers of the genre? Or to ask them what their faves are and why? Too much hard work for you, Ms Dowd?
Why does Dowd not explain exactly what’s wrong with the existence of chicklit? I mean, seriously, what is the point of her column? Why is she so threatened by the colour pink?
Okay, that didn’t help. I’m still cranky.
I’ll be stomping off out of your way now.