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The International Writers Magazine: Chick Lit

Chick Literati
Emma King

When asked about the state of literature today, I had no idea it would be so difficult. I sat down to write for what felt like a thousand times, eventually concluding that I know nothing about literature today, let alone what state it’s in. That’s when I decided to write about what I do know, and what I do know is chick-lit.
I looked over the books I own; stack upon stack of over predictable, classically cheesy and a somewhat pathetic collection of chick-lit novels. Now don’t get me wrong, I love chick-lit and I can’t really slate it as like every other chick-lit reader out there, I am an addict for anything Bridget Jones.

However, what do these books say about us as readers? I think they say that we’re desperate, lonely and looking for love. They are fairytales for the modern girl who no longer has time for the epic romances of Jane Austen and her beautiful Pride and Prejudice. We’ve all seen the film, and don’t get me started on the six hour BBC adaptation; Colin Firth has never looked better! But modern women just don’t have time to read the novel. It’s far easier to bung on the DVD and dream away as we work out, write essays, do the ironing, etcetera.

Or perhaps it’s not that we don’t have the time, but more that we don’t make the time. I don’t know about you, but when I’m not a slave to homework, housework, work even, I just want to relax. I want to watch a story, not read one. I don’t want to have to imagine a character from three pages of over-detailed description, I just need to see them right there in front of me. Maybe I’m just lazy and can’t be bothered but I’ll always choose TV or film over a book, just because it’s quicker and easier.

So maybe this is where we should think about the state of literature today; that if literature is in a state it is because of its readers. In fact the writers should be praised for producing books so convenient for their readers.

For example, the books I love best are not only those that you can’t put down but those that you can! I love a novel that’s written in emails, such as Meg Cabot’s ‘Guy Next Door’ or segments from a diary, such as Louise Rennison’s ‘The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson,’ as they provide frequent breaks in the text, allowing the reader to just read a little when they can. I adore novels that are designed for the modern woman who is hopping on and off various transports; reading to fill in waiting times, opposed to reading for pleasure.

So why is it that women are so addicted to the content of these novels? Is it the identifiable lead characters, the light style or the search for Prince Charming? I think it might possibly be a combination of all three. It’s a book that gives you hope, romance and colour in a world that provides players, one night stands and grey rain.

So there might be millions of gripping crime novels, enticing supernatural worlds and a bundle of action thrillers, but when it comes down to it, I just want a good man, a happy read and a decent seat on the bus. Can you blame me?
© Emma King November 2007

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