Friday, May 25, 2007
Hey chicky babe: championing chicklit
Yesterday’s meme reminded me of Jess’s post at this delicious solitude about her unexpected discovery of the Jane Austen Book Club. To the disappointment of her book-purist heart, she found herself enjoying it. Her problem was that the novel may be considered ‘chicklit’. Evaluative and enlightening, her post and the comments received provide an interesting take on our assumptions as readers.
Stigma surrounds chicklit. But if content counts, then shouldn’t we as readers be open to new reading adventures? Sure, chick lit books are marketed with bubble-gum covers that scream cultural commodification. This sucks for authors who mix the frivolity of the fashion world with astute observation. Intelligent chick lit, like La’Brooy, can appeal on different levels. I do wonder though, if I wasn’t young and female would I still find La’Brooy equally amusing and enjoyable?
One day, a customer came in to work looking for a book. She was afflicted with a common customer ailment; details had fled her brain. Not even a title or author to go on. She lingered in front of the Alphabet Sisters . She was searching for a book ‘kind of like that.’ I ascertained she meant something with that candy-pink, girly appeal. She wavered at classifying this mysterious book as chick lit. We couldn’t work out what it was.
Alternatively, I recommended the book I was shelving - La’Brooy’s love struck . I raved about its intellectual merit, Salinger allusions, quality prose. Realizing these things mighn’t appeal, I talked up its humourous plot. She looked dubiously for a moment at the garish cover, until recognition hit: ‘that’s it! That’s the author I read!’. Turns out, she had read La’Brooy’s new novel Serendipity, but almost didn’t recognize the author owing to the different nature of the covers adorning her first two books. She happily bought La’Brooy's other books. We were both spun out.
The wish list was truly a riotous read. Particularly amusing was a scene involving an intellectual rendezvous at a bookstore gone awry. Intellectual pretensions are satirized as they create misunderstanding and embarrassment. The incident ends with the accidental theft of some Marquis de Sade. I’ll zip it with the rave review, but the humour definitely gave me an ab workout.