When I bring up the topic of Chick Lit I’m often asked what Chick Lit is and am stunned by the question, wondering how they could not know. Chick Lit is after all one of the fasting growing genres and money makers.
What Chick Lit is may vary depending on the fondness of the person doing the describing but basically it’s a cutesy name for another division of women’s (chicks) literature with a little more flair. The books are fun accounts of witty, overworked and under loved women looking for better jobs and a better love life. A majority of them come from Britain. But this is just the surface story. Every Chick Lit story I’ve read also has a deeper motive driving the character, some secret from her past she still hasn’t overcome (of course there are some that do not).
While most seem to have the stereotyped friends the main character leans on for support, some of the stereotypes run true – there are a select few we tell our deepest wishes and diarist needs to. It doesn’t matter if it’s the gay guy or the beautiful model. They are there to represent the friends we love; slightly misaligned for a little comedic relief.
The onset of Chick Lit seemed to start with the hysteria surrounding Bridget Jone’s Diary. Every Chick Lit book since has been compared to it in some way, some how making it a benchmark. This limits the genre considerably and I think has been pivotal in the backlash descended upon the books and the authors who write them. There is so much more to Chick Lit than Bridget Jones. So much more than the cutesy covers. Like any genre you have to be selective in what you read because not all Chick Lit is considered equal. There’s good, there’s bad and yes there’s the ugly.
Recently, I talked to three writers about Chick Lit and its role in literature. To each of them I posed five questions. Specifically:
- What does Chick Lit mean to you?
- Why do you like Chick Lit novels?
- Is Chick Lit real literature?
- Does all Chick Lit live by the same format?
- Is Chick Lit becoming a loose term to categorize all women’s literature?
Here’s what they had to say:
This piece was originally published 9/26/2005 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.