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The Chick Lit Controversy - Lauren Baratz-Logsted

I talked to three writers about Chick Lit and its role in literature. To each of them I posed five questions.

What does Chick Lit mean to you?

Contemporary books primarily written by and about women that have a humorous or satiric tone.

Why do you like Chick Lit novels?

I by no means like all Chick Lit novels. I like the smart ones that challenge me to think and the funny ones that just have cracking-good stories.

Is Chick Lit real literature?

My Webster's Tenth defines literature under definition 3 as "writings in prose or verse" (Chick Lit, almost always written in prose, although I don't recall any Chick Lit novels written in verse, definitely qualifies there), but goes on to elucidate, "especially writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest" (I'd say that, just as with any genre, plus literary fiction, Chick Lit has some books that edify in this way and some that don't).

Does all Chick Lit live by the same format?

Absolutely not. And since, by virtue of being published by Red Dress Ink, my books are labelled Chick Lit, I'll hold myself up as an example of nonformat Chick Lit. Most of the naysayers say Chick Lit books feature likable ditzes in their twenties who resemble the girl next door and work in the corporate world yadda yadda. Well, my first novel, The Thin Pink Line, features an often dislikable but very smart sociopath who, believe you me, you would not want to live next door to. And my third novel, just out, A Little Change of Face, is about a 39-year-old librarian who deliberately makes herself look unattractive; and, yes, I did say a librarian - a librarian in a Chick Lit novel!

Is Chick Lit becoming a loose term to categorize all women's literature?

By no means all women's literature, but it's fast become an umbrella term that has lost meaning. Thinking all Chick Lit is the same is as about as useful, critically speaking, as thinking Dashiell Hammett and Carolyn Hart and Walter Moseley and on and on are all the same because they all get shelved under Mysteries.

*Shanna Swendson
*Dorothy Thompson


M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario, Canada. If you are going to find this eclectic reader and writer anywhere it is probably at her computer. For more information visit her official website.

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