Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Chick Lit (and Dude Lit by association)

It's official, I don't like "chick lit." Before I venture further, by "chick lit" I mean the variety of book typically printed as a trade paperback, a jaunty, kicky picture of a cute girl on the front, wherein the story centers on the search for Mr. Right - or at least Mr. Rightnow - written in a quasi-humorous breezy fashion. I thought I would like the humor, but most of it is self-depreciating at the expense of the heroine and after a while it just comes off like she needs therapy. (Yes, therapy, not vitamins. Tom. You freak.)

I won't name the authoresses I've read, because I think that would be unfair. Y'see, I don't think the problem is the books, necessarily, but the fact that I'm not the intended audience. I think these are for abstract commiseration in how difficult dating is for the young, single gal. Since I never have been, nor ever will be a young, single gal, these just have no traction for me.

Oh, I was once a young, single guy who had troubles meeting someone. Well, not meeting someone, but meeting the right someone. I recall sitting on a bench at lunch one day, in the bright sun on a beautiful day, laying down a streak of woe about not having a date for eons. The guy sitting next to me on his cigarette break turned to me and groused, "What do you want me to do? Feel sorry for you?" In hindsight, I love those times where life just comes up and bitch-slaps you and says, essentially, "Cowboy up, weenie!" At the time though, I was shocked. In my mind, I thought, "Well ... yeah. Feel sorry for me. This is tough." But, y'know, there I was whining all over his sunny day when all he wanted was a smoke. It was a watershed for me, so I shut the hell up about that topic; for good, pretty much. (Oh, there were occasional beery moments and those dark teatimes of the soul where I relapsed just a little bit, but I still put on the brakes after a paragraph.)

All of the chick lit I've read is essentially this wailing and gnashing of teeth over the same, with a few digs at what pigs men are (and, when it comes to the rut, yeah, we can be pigs), and then the hosannas on how wonderful the guy is who sticks around past the farting right out loud in front of each other stage. Bores me silly.

But, whilst thinking about this post, it occurred to me that most dude lit - which I would categorize as tough guys doing brave and daring things like in Tom Clancy novels - bores me silly, too. I mean, I liked The Hunt for the Red October because there was nothing out there so deliciously technoweenie at the time. Pages of submarine operation minutia was cool because most of us never see that. But then Clancy veered into Republican hero land and it was over, as far as I was concerned. It's kinda like the "Left Behind" series; the story might be fun, but man, the proselytizing is murder.

The whole genre that Clancy belongs to gives me the yawns. It takes a special person to write action well, and when it's done right - see any of the Robert E. Howard "Conan" stories - it's riveting. But when it's just action hero does thus and such, then does this, then something blows up, it's a lot like heroine dates thus and such, then does him, then something blows up - you get the picture.

Both of these genres, by the way, work spectacularly in a movie, because you can see the action, and movies cover far less material (they're usually the equivalent of a short story). The thin material provided by chick lit and dude lit hangs much better in the cinema than it does on the page.

Thank God we've got a new Harry Potter and a new John Irving coming out in a few days.


Neil said...

Just when you have all these interesting women coming here from that 2Blowhards link, you ruin it all by insulting the thousands of women who buy these crappy chick-lit books. Well, at least it will keep you blogging...

Yahmdallah said...

My post wasn't meant to be a slam on those women at all. My intent was to recuse myself because I don't think I'm the audience for the genre anymore than, say, lit profs are for a certain corner of pimply-faced sci-fi. I gave it a go, think it's ok, but not for me.

But I take your meaning.

Apologies to anyone who thinks this is a slam on women or chick lit.