Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ah, Maureen Dowd, I don't always agree with you,

but I agree with most of your opinion on chick-lit.

But I haven't read The Devil Wears Prada or the Bridgette Jones Diaries. I don't drink cosmopolitans, though I'm sure I would like them well enough, and I never watched Sex and the City. One day, I met my friend for coffee, and she said she was worried about moving because she needed her Sex in the City lifestyle.

I tried to read romance novels for a while but couldn't. My friends are perhaps bored of me saying this, but even the story about the romance between the vampire and the Buddhist monk ended in marriage.

Chick lit is different from romance, though. The heroines of romance novels are usually virgins until they meet their future husband. Or, at the very least, the hero has to be the genesis of some kind of standard sexual awakening for the heroine. The romance novel heroine can be a princess or a peasant, but her hero is generally a man of power. Chick-lit heroines are urban, in their 20s and 30s, wealthy or on their way to being wealthy, hyper-conscious of their image, and sexually promiscuous even as they long for stability and a fairly generic sort of man to save the day.

I'm not anti-genre fiction, you all know that I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. Traditionally, these genres have tended to simply leave women out: The Lord of the Rings isn't a story about girls or women, duh. But thanks to writers like Anne McCaffrey, Robin McKinley, and Marion Zimmer Bradley and endless more, I can read stories about women who travel to far away places and save the word. And yes, usually there is romance, but the heroine and hero get to save the world together.

So, no Sex in the City or cosmopolitans for me. And no chick-lit. Basically, no stories about women learning to become happy heterosexual capitalists (although I make semi-exceptions for Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice). Oh, the endless self-obsessing. Does he like me? Doesn't he like me? Which man (among the endless options of boring men) should I sleep with? Which boring rich man (who is also sensitive and artistic) should I eventually marry and have babies with after I fuck a lot of these other boring men? Ugh!

I never read coming of age books either. I started to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Heidi, Little Women Under the Lilacs, Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, etc but found them boring, yes, even Little Women, G-d forgive me. These books are all much better though, than romance novels and chick lit. I like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice better than all these books, but not nearly as much as Wuthering Heights or House of Mirth.


Ray-Ray said...

Ah, I grew up on Anne McCaffrey and Robin McKinley, I loved loved loved them. I also loved Bridget Jones' Diary, although I couldn't get through 5 minutes on The Devil Wears Prada on audio tape on a drive from DC to Pgh. Sex and the City was a really sweet show (waaaay more about 'sisterhood' than romance/men). I love love love Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, and the BBC movie of Pride and Prejudice. I've never been able to read romance, in general (although Anne McCaffrey has her share of romance in her novels). But I loved Mary Stewart, mainly for her travelogue-like writing, but also for her mystery/romances. I found Lord of the Rings dreadfully boring, loved Heidi (when I was four or five, Mum read it to me, and when I was small in games of 'house' I always chose the name Heidi) and Little Women and Little Men and The Secret Garden and A Little Princess and Anne of Green Gables -- and Little Lord Fauntleroy especially was my absolute favorite, although that one's about a boy.

K. Lorraine Graham said...

I also love loved Anne McCaffrey and Robin McKinley--Robin McKinley used to live in Blue Hill, ME, where I went to school off and on--she had bright red hair, so I'd always think of her characters when I saw her. I have signed copies of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword..

Ray-Ray said...

Those were the two BEST!!! I read them again and again.