Thursday, 21 January 2010


Yes, hello, ten days till the deadline, I have five meetings tomorrow and a new semester's teaching starts on Monday, WHATEVER. The point is that I am planning (for February, when a utopian world of time-having and headspace and sunshine and tweeting birds will open up ahead of me) a post on chicklit, because I like chicklit and I don't want that giant post on Linda Green to look like I am dissing the genre. (In fact, LG claims to have invented a new genre called 'chick-noir', presumably on the basis of a strand of the plot I didn't talk about in which her heroine's behaviour is shown to result from a bad experience in her past - she had a miscarriage - which is an absolutely standard chicklit plot - I've read two others dealing with it in the last week or so, both of which handled it much better and, indeed, more noirly.)

Anyway, though, this is not that post, it's a reminder to myself/teaser trailer to that post, in that I have just opened another sugary-pastel novel with a scribbly cover picture of a dreamy girl, described by Sophie Kinsella* on the front as Pure feel-good escapism and summarized by Heat on the back in the words A resigned singleton, Laura's world is rocked when her first boyfriend appears... and it appears to be about the process of grieving your husband's suicide.

Which, again, is the thing about chicklit. It tends to deal with big, complicated emotions. It has big themes: love, death, birth, grief, pain, joy; how to build and rebuilt a romantic relationship; how to be a good friend. But for some reason, it gets painted sugary pink or acid green and described as being escapist, feel-good, charming, and/or exclusively about the 30-something hetero-dating scene. I can't decide whether this is camouflage or outright lies.

Anyway, I am only 13 pages into this book (Isabell Wolff's A Question of Love), so I will tell you how it turns out.

(Yes! Obviously some chicklit is very bad! But have you read a literary novel lately? Sturgeon's Law, people, Sturgeon's Law. Either of them.)

*I really, really like Sophie Kinsella. The Shopaholic books go off the rails quite quickly (though I really like the P J Hogan movie - remind me to tell you about P J Hogan as a critical reader of popular novels one day), but all the others are great, especially the amnesia one whose title I quite genuinely forget.

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