Friday, February 24, 2006

Chick Lit

Another tenant in The Guy's building must be an editor, as they're always leaving galleys on the front foyer table with a note to other tenants to help themselves. It's always interesting to see what's left out and how long it stays.

About a week ago, I was on the phone with The Guy and he mentioned that he'd picked up some absolutely awful "chick-lit." I didn't bother asking why he was reading chick-lit; figured it was free and he was probably hoping to glean some insights into contemporary pop culture.

Asked him why it was so horrible - guess he found the premise annoying (bitchy 20-somethings working for a fashion magazine), the characters one-dimensional, the writing bland and full of product-placement and name-dropping. My reply was that this was the way people must view things in the fashion publishing world (after all, he knew how a lot of the "brand" and "identity" folks that he dealt with were like) and that, in the end, not everyone is going to be into Middlemarch or Swann's Way for pleasure-reading.

Anyway, got the book from him: something called Fashionistas, from a newer Harlequin division. Thought it interesting that they are catering to all sorts of folks now: twenty-somethings, 'boomers,' African-Americans. They've even got a company that deals strictly in Spanish-Language editions (Funny, don't remember seeing any French, though it's a Canadian company). Wasn't too hard a read; finished it in like an hour and a half. The characters were pretty flat, though I got a kick out of the names (always funny in a Harlequin novel). The story? A little bit too close to home, as well, that's corporate life for you I guess. What I found particularly interesting was the role the male love interest was relegated into: almost nonexistent, save to move the plot along. I remember back in school talking about the misogyny of a lot of existentialist writers for their only including 'female' characters to move along a plot; guess we've come 'a long way, baby' with this new genre. The love interest (forget his name, that's how memorable he was. He did have a dog of some sort, though. Remember that.) might as well have been Camus's arabe, for all the character development we get. What goes around comes around, I guess.

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