Monday, November 06, 2006

Lauren Baratz-Logsted GuestBlog: Hearts & Chicks, Sticks & Stones

Contest!!! One lucky commenting Bella will win a copy of LBL's "Vertigo!"
I asked Lauren Baratz-Logsted to GuestBlog for us after I read an article about the Great Chick-Lit Controversy for which she'd been interviewed. She's got lots of interesting stuff to say about Chick-Lit, and clearly chooses to "define it -- not defend it," as we preach here at RBtheBlog.

Lauren's here to introduce us to her first love, and asks you to help her learn a bit more about the genre we adore. And I must say, anyone who praises cohesiveness and solidarity among those of us facing a cynical "outside world"-- especially the literary one -- has my vote for Smart Chick Who Understands We're All in This Together. Please give Laura a warm Bella buongiorno...

I’ve read so many mischaracterizations of Chick-Lit – that the books are always romantic comedies about young women in urban settings hating their bosses by day while searching for Mr. Right by night – that it’s just a little bit ironic that I’m opening a column with a definition of Romance, but there you have it.

Romance, as far as I can tell, is, quite simply, the designation given to books where the primary storyline involves romance. The variety of plots and settings where this can play out is vast – paranormal, suspense, comedy, any historical time period imaginable – but the primacy of romance in the story is undeniable.

And, if I understand the prescription of Romance Writers of America correctly, for a book to be a Romance, there must be a Happily Ever After. (Please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m new at this.)

Of course, many Chick-Lit writers are members of RWA. Chick-Lit writers get in because their publishers are “RWA recognized” and if there is “a strong romantic element.”

But is Chick-Lit, by definition, Romance? Sometimes, yes; sometimes, no. All of my books have a strong romantic element, but you’d be hard-pressed to call any of them Romance. Certainly, there’s no clear-cut Happily Ever After. And so it is with much of Chick-Lit, although there are certainly Chick-Lit books that are also Romance.

The defining feature of Chick-Lit is comedy. Chick-Lit books can also be paranormal, mystery, or romance, but unless there is an overall comedic tone to the book, it’s not Chick-Lit. Romance has long been under fire from critics, many of whom I’d imagine don’t even read the books, who accuse the genre of creating cookie-cutter books bound by conventions. (As if all genres, Mystery and Sci-Fi among them, don’t come with their own conventions.)

You can see how these attacks have hurt many practitioners of the genre when you hear about professors using pseudonyms for their work for fear that academic colleagues will look down on them or when RWA launches PR campaigns to burnish the genre’s image.

Chick-Lit is also under fire, has been almost from its inception. Curtis Sittenfeld famously likened calling another writer’s book Chick-Lit to labeling her a slut and Elizabeth Merrick put together an anthology called This is Not Chick Lit, the introduction to which talks about Chick-Lit numbing readers’ consciousness.

In response to that, I created an anthology called THIS IS CHICK-LIT which stands as a positive statement to the wide range of storytelling styles and themes that fall under the umbrella heading of Chick-Lit. There was another anthology recently released featuring thriller writers, simply called Thriller, and I’d love to see Romance doing something similar: create an anthology showcasing all Romance has to offer.

Here’s the thing, at the risk of stating the obvious: Life is short. Life is too short to get into the mud-slinging wars of “Whose book is better?” or “Whose genre is more important?” In light of that, I think Romance writers and Chick-Lit authors should stick together.

I’m not saying we should champion individual books that we dislike. But we also shouldn’t fall into the trap of divisiveness either. We have more in common than sometimes we think. We like to make people laugh. We like to make people feel some great emotion. Along the way, if we’re lucky, we like to make people think.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more people devoted their lives to laughter and love?

***
Lauren Baratz-Logsted, in addition to being the editor of This Is Chick-Lit, had written four Chick-Lit novels: The Thin Pink Line, Crossing the Line, A Little Change of Face, and How Nancy Drew Saved My Life. She is also the author of the literary suspense novel Vertigo and the forthcoming serious Young Adult novel Angel’s Choice. You can read more about her work at LaurenBaratzLogsted.com.

60 comments:

Undercover said...

Lauren, I've always loved your attitude toward Chick-Lit, writing and writers. I can't imagine what come people gain by putting down a genre or another's work. Love your books!

jgetze@aol.com said...

Every genre is ridiculed by someone. As a mystery writer, I often hear "when are you going to try a REAL novel?" And while traditional romance usually leaves me cold (I am a boy afterall), I've loved every "chick-lit" book I've tried. I love humor.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Undecover, I wish I knew your name because you are officially My New Best Friend! :)

JGetze, it's true about all genres being dumped on by someone. Even literary fiction takes its lumps. But in my 23 years in this business - I was an independent bookseller for 11 years and a PW reviewer before getting published - I've never seen the likes of this. That said, I too have had people talk to me about my work in relation to "REAL novel(s)" and I am grateful for your support of Chick-Lit.

stay_c said...

I really loved "This is Chick-Lit" and thought that the stories captured the essence of what is great about this genre. Great interview, Lauren.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Thank you, stay_c!

Stephlee said...

Lauren, I've read really good reviews of Vertigo. Since I have loved all your "Chick Lit" books, I'm anxious to try something a little different. What made you throw us a "change up" with Vertigo? (Sorry about the baseball analogy...still thinking about the Cards winning the World Series!)

Rhonda Stapleton said...

I don't understand why it's okay for some genres to sling mud at others. All I feel like they're doing is trying to justify how great they are. Whether they are or not, there's room for us all at the sandbox. I don't see chick lit authors out there insulting literary fiction authors for being too depressing. hahaha

ev said...

I loved how the sci-fi/fantasy genre has handled the problem they have- that the girl/woman can't be there hero of the story and have it taken seriously. There is a whole series of books, with titles such as "The Chick is in the Mail", "Chicks in Chained Mail", etc. They are funny stories, many by well known authors. I don't understand why one genre has to be only one way to be taken seriously, enjoyed by the readers and not slammed by others. I don't read things by author's like Anne Rice and Stephen King, but I don't slam them or the people (my daughter for one) who read them.

To each her/his own and let everyone enjoy reading what they want without censorship.

Kathy Holmes said...

I do love and support chick lit and Lauren creates fabulous characters with interesting plot twists. So if you're going to get upset with "chick lit," you'd better get upset with movies labeled "chick flicks." What's up with that? Male insecurity? :)

You said it well by describing chick lit as comedy - romantic comedy, even. And those are my favorite movies - both for dh and myself - he's a guy, he even writes romantic comedy. But people still call them "chick flicks." And that's okay - that's how we know where the good ones are - books, movies, and men. :)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Stephlee, no worries on the baseball analogy and thanks for the kind words about my work. I actually wasn't trying to pitch a change-up with VERTIGO. In truth, the first draft of that book was written in 2000 and the only one of my published Chick-Lit books that actually preceeds it in writing order is THE THIN PINK LINE. I never set out whem I write a particular book to write in any specific genre. The idea and character dictate the setting and tone and then the publisher/market decides the genre afterwards. VERTIGO did receive a great review in the Boston Globe, comparing it to bestselling suspense novelist Ruth Rendell, so I'm thrilled you'll be giving it a shot.

Rhonda, you're my kind of chick.

Ev, you're definitely a New Best Friend too.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Kathy, thanks for stopping by! You raise some good points. Of course, when it comes to Chick-Lit books, the worst detractors I've seen have always been other women, not men.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ciao, Bellas, new friends, and Lauren. Thanks so much for stopping by.

I so love this discussion. I think how Lauren just tied up her last comment gets to the heart of how I see the issue: women not being able to support one another.

Doesn't matter what the "outside world" thinks -- and I'm not sure they give all that much thought to it anyway -- what matters is how cohesive we are. If we look like a bunch of cats clawing at one another, how can we expect anyone to see us as anything but?

This is something I've long observed: while it seems writers of Chick-Lit experience their own frustration with not being taken seriously, Chick-Lit is still considered by many more "literary" than romance.

And within romance, writers of certain levels of sensuality consider writers of more erotic romance less legitimate. And writers who publish electronically are considered less legit by many authors who publish "hard copy."

I think the old saw, "People who live in glass houses, blahblahblah" is particularly aprpos. Maybe our image problem is our own.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

stephlee, you're welcome to use sports analogy here! I;m a big fan of the Sports Guy. Um, but you must first give requisite props to my BoSox. Insincere ones are acceptable.
:) And "Vertigo" is very cool. Historical, btw.

hi, kathy! I always thought the term Chick Flicks was a kinda funny way guys labeled what makes them uncomfortable -- sitting through a movie that makes them think about feelings. But I've also always linked with the term the connotation: a film I have to sit through that will make her feel romantic so that I may get a little action after. :)

ev, it's so great you support what your daughter reads. I read so much Stephen King as a kid. I remember in college one of my Lit profs said"when you're asked in an interview what kinds of books do you read, please dont mention S. King." He was a very egalitarian guy when it came to lit. But what he meant was, people judge us by the books we read, and you never know whether the interviewer is that kind of goofball.

Hey, Rhonda! good point. What I do hear is a lot of women saying that they started reading romance because they were sick of what was being offered to them as women's fiction that was literate -- mostly maudlin, depressing stuff that, if the reader was fortunate, had a vaguely hopeful ending. Literati have great discomfort with a facile Happily Ever After.

I think romance readers are incredibly brave for enjoying a HEA, despite society's discomfort w/the same. At the same time, I've never met or corresponded w/ a romance reader who didn't understand that life holds no romance novel HEAs.

hey, jgetze! It stinks that talented writers have to put up with crap from folks who don't get what they do. And, j? I guarantee I could find you a romance that would leave you anything but cold.

You go, undercover!

Welcome, Stay_c: I agree. I'm really glad Lauren is here to tell us about Chick-Lit.

Lauren. Sometimes I feel Chick-Lit just isn't written for me, like it's something women way younger than my 41 years would id with far better than I.

I'm sure the demo is wide=spread, but who most typically reads Chick-Lit?

And what's up with all the references to designer shoes and handbags, etc.?

Vivi Anna said...

Welcome Lauren to RBTB! I love chick-lit. Have read my fair share. I think we all need to stop judging books by their genre and just judge them by the story told. A good book should just be a good book. But I guess we're talking about a society that still judges by race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. So likely it will never happen.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Michelle, thanks for having me here and for the warm welcome and thanks for, well, your sheer exuberance.

The typical Chick-Lit reader, at least according to the stereotype, is in her twenties to thirties. I haven't been keeping demo stats, of course, and can only speak to my own fan mail, but I have readers all over the place: from teenagers to grandmothers and, yes, even men. My books tend to have unusual plots and unconventional characters - A LITTLE CHANGE OF FACE starred a gorgeous 39-year-old librarian and I have a book out next year where ther heroine is a professional window washer. As for the designer stuff you mention, all Chick-Lit isn't like that. I'm fond of saying that the only time my characters ever go shopping is if they need a disguise. And my one book that does contain a shoe fetish, the one about the widow washer, only does so because the book itself is a cautionary tale about the perils of addictive personalities.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Vivi, we'll just keep fighting the good fight. Will we ever convert everyone to fair-mindedness? No. But at least we're trying.

jenny gardiner said...

Right on sistah! Glad you're fighting the good fight Lauren! It's always best to take the high road rather than swiping back at those who feel compelled to presume superiority....

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Exactly, Jenny! I've been on this high road so long I'm getting a nose bleed, but I swear it's worth it. At least I can live with myself.

jenny gardiner said...

Two more things--I'm now embarrassed b/c I hadn't read the previous comments before posting and I see that Lauren just referred to "fighting the good fight" and I wrote that as well. Nothing like being original! Oops!

And hi MIchelle--I write what could be categorized as chick lit if you're basing it on strong first person female voice. But mine has nothing to do with single young women in the big city. My manuscript SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER, which is a finalist in the American Title contest going on now, is what I call a coming-of-middle-age story. It's funny, it's sardonic, it's at times sad, but overall uplifting. And there are no shoes or handbags to speak of ;-) (although at one point my protag is very angry at her husband and mentally grinds her stiletto into his crotch...does that count?!)
This "genre" is broad-sweeping and really can cover all sorts of women's fiction. It has taken numerous hits due to snobbery, and this is unfortunate. But ultimately these types of stories will be discovered, though their term of reference may change to appease those who run from the term.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

That's so true, Jenny! That's what I like about Lauren's attitude. It's hard hard hard to choose that high road, but it pays off in the long run.

As for the designer stuff you mention, all Chick-Lit isn't like that. I'm fond of saying that the only time my characters ever go shopping is if they need a disguise.

That's so funny, Lauren. Yeah, I kinda think the whole designer thing bastardizes Chick-Lit, and, for me, the references can stop a novel cold like a "blossoming flower of her femininity" can a love scene in a romance.

Doesn't mean those types aren't enjoyable. For some reason, they remind me a little of "wallpaper" historical romances. I think those are just fine, too, but when you've got the history rockin along with a great love story, the reading experience is sweeter.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Jenny, you're making me laugh already. Coming-of-middle-age story? So funny. Yes. A stiletto to the crotch always counts for something somewhere.

Your comments about snobbery, as well as your type of novel findin its niche remind me of a little while back when folks were terming stories like yours 'hen lit.' Do you remember? Older heroine in Chick-Lit style novel?

Never has there been created a label less likely to sell books to a specific demo. "hen lit." sheesh. what the cluck was they thinkin?

Vivs! Pithy. That's what we always count on you for. Mostly.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Jenny, best of luck with the American Title contest!

Michelle, agreed on "Hen Lit." At 44, I suspect I'm old enough to be a Hen. But let me tell you, anyone calls me that is going to get a designer stiletto to the crotch. I suppose I'll have to buy a pair first, but believe me, when I do that's what they'll get!

Lucie Simone said...

It gets very exhausting having to defend your genre, doesn't it? I just had an experience in which I had to defend what I write to one of my own friends. I believe there is room in the market place for every form of literature. And I don't believe that chick-lit or romance is deserving of the pot-shots so often thrown at it.

jenny gardiner said...

Thanks Lauren for the good wishes for the American Title contest ;-) . I appreciate your kind thoughts!

The "blossoming flower of her femininity"--oh, MIchelle--I just LOVE that one...Makes you want to read on, doesn't it? Ha!

And the hen lit--only thing worse than that was when I heard someone term it "matron lit". Like something from the prison warden...

A friend from the chick lit loop recently proposed changing the name from chick lit to "vag lit". LOL Can you see that selling?!

I am convinced that there are lots of us in the youthful age group in which we find ourselves who are interested in reading stories with universal experiences with which we can all relate. I mean we're in our forties--we're not bedridden, for goodness' sake (or if we are bedridden, hopefully it's in a positive way ;-)

amy*skf said...

OMG--vag lit?! LOL.

"Er, excuse me, where do you keep your Vag Lit?"

"I think you'll be wanting the drugstore for that m'am."

Ghhaaa.

I started reading chick lit before it even had it's own name--didn't realize it was its own genre, just knew the authors I liked who wrote, funny, female, finding her way kind of books. The first ones I read were all by Irish and English authors.

So when I hear people make fun of them (or any genre for that matter)my first comment is of course--have you even read any?

Lauren, can't wait to add your voice to my collection.
All these comments have been so intelligent--love it.

ev said...

Oh, hell, if I want to be serious about something I read, I'll grab a Patterson, Clancy or Weber. But mostly, I read to be entertained, and if that book makes me laugh out loud or just plain giggle, it has done what I hope the author meant to do and lifted my spirits at the same time.

Maybe if more of these idiot politicians (any side) read some of the books like chick lit, the damned ads, that thankfully end tomorrow, wouldn't always be so negative and bashing and instead focus on the important stuff. Maybe we can pass a referendum that makes it mandatory that everyone reads at least one of them a month?????

Like I said before, if you don't like it, just don't read it. No need to bash someone elses choice in recreational reading material.

Cryna said...

I found this whole blog interesting, and have to admit that I have never read a Chick Lit book. I am going to track one down, and see what they are all about, because this blog has twigged my interest. Thank you for an insight to this world of reading.

alissa said...

Chick Lit is a wonderful discovery and so much of it is uplifting and I love it. Your books are filled with great characters who are real and amusing. I am interested in Vertigo. Looks wonderful.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Lucie, you're absolutely right. And it's interesting to note that people don't get nearly as up in arms about books featuring serial killers doing all manner of violent things to women as they do about Chick-Lit and Romance. Honestly. Give me love/laughter or give me death. I'm taking love/laughter.

Jenny, I'm still laughing over Vag Lit.

Thank you, Amy - and if you don't enjoy my books, you know who to blame!

Ev, I'm casting my vote for you.

Thank you, Cyrna, for being open-minded. Keep in mind, even within Chick-Lit there's a lot of diversity, just as in Romance there are Regency, contemporary, suspense etc. Hopefully the first you read will be to your taste, but if not don't assume they're all bad (and I know you won't assume, because you seem too smart and lovely for that).

(quick curtsey) Thank you so much, Alissa. I hope you enjoy Vertigo.

Playground Monitor said...

Good Monday afternoon! (Not really, but I'm trying to psyche myself out.) :grin:

I've read about half a dozen chick lit books and while I'm not a huge fan of the genre, I'd never bash it. It has its audience and they love it, just as the books I love have a target audience and we love them. It's all a matter of taste and we all have different tastes. Can't we all just get along and respect each others' opinions?

I agree that women can sometimes be the cattiest, most self-destructive creatures. We should stick together instead of trying to implode the gender.

Back to trying to salvage my crappy day.

Marilyn - who questions why she signed up for an online blogging workshop at the beginning of the holiday season

Jennifer Y. said...

I don't understand why people criticize or put down other genres. Like ev said, if you don't like then don't read it. There is no need to put it down. Everyone has their own tastes in reading. I also don't think people should judge a whole genre based on one book they've read and didn't enjoy. Every book is different.

To me a story is a story...it doesn't matter what genre it is or isn't. If the story is good, then I will enjoy it. I am willing to give any genre a try...but I don't base my opinion of the genre on one book alone.

Jennifer Y. said...

I hope that post above made sense...I am battling a cold right now and not all brain cells are fully functioning...LOL.

jenny gardiner said...

Lauren--it is so crazy--bludgeon someone to death and peel their skin off and that's a-ok, but dare to write a frothy novel and you're condemned to damnation! Not that all chick lit is frothy, but so what if it is? Reading is often about escape, and I'd far rather escape into something enjoyable than something gruesome.

Amy--am thinking you'd have to pick up your vag lit through the CVS drive-through window ;-) LOL
The big question is, would it stop that embarrassing itch?!
I was like you--I can remember years ago scouring amazon.co.uk in search of fun chick lit reads as none were available in the US (those postage fees were hefty)

Ev--I'm voting for you too. That's two votes for Ev, now a couple million more and you're in! (says Jenny who has been enlisting a LOT of votes lately for this contest and is becoming *almost* comfortable with self-promotion!)

Cryna--darn, wish I had a book actually published so you could read mine as a sample (!), but with any luck, it's in the near future...(but you can read excerpts on my website: www.jennygardiner.net)

Alissa--I love Lauren's books, too. Proof that chick lit and talented writing can and do go hand in hand! (and that chick lit is not mutually exclusive of other writing genres)

Marilyn--sorry you're having a lousy day! It is so unfortunate about the catty proclivities of some women. Some men start wars, some women claw other women's eyes out LOL...Two of my kids are female, one teen, one tween, and I am having a refresher course in how girls behave as I watch the interaction between girls of these age groupings. And while we like to believe it stops after junior high school (just like acne), alas, it clearly doesn't (hence that middle-aged acne...)...

jenny gardiner said...

Clarification--that bludgeoning thing, I mean *write* about someone bludgeoning someone to death! Eek--I sound like some total sicko without that little detail included!

Diana Peterfreund said...

And what's up with all the references to designer shoes and handbags, etc.?

I think Lauren nails it here and I think we also discussed this some when we spoke in Atlanta, Michelle, but I think this is a misleading generalization. It's like saying "oh, you're a romance writer. Have you met Fabio?"

It's a cute and funny and cheesy thing that CAN be connected to our genre, but doesn't describe it at all.

Maybe it's just the chick lits *I* choose to read aren't obsessed with mentioning designer anythings. I think the only one in my collection that discusses designers is Shopaholic.

I've received, "oh this is one of those shoe books" comments about my books, and my character only mentions what shoes she's wearing once -- they're a pair of high top sneakers. She's a college student! She wears jeans and t-shirts and THAT'S IT.

Of course, since my book has come out, I've been surprised how often it's described as NOT being chick lit because it doesn't contain the stereotypical elements: girl in NYC dating Mr. Wrong, working as an assistant, and searching for the perfect pair of shoes. The argument that this is NOT what makes a chick lit seems to fall on deaf ears.

So it seems as if the detractors will first define a genre by the elements they find most stale and distasteful, so as to make it easier to simply dismiss anything that they might enjoy as not belonging to the genre.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Marilyn, here's hoping the crappy day improves!

Jennifer Y, you came in loud and clear - feel better!

Jenny, when I first started writing comic novels, back in the mid-1990s pre-Bridget Jones, I actually got a rejection letter that basically said, "I love this book but Americans don't like books that make them laugh." :)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Hi, Diana! I also think one thing that props up the stereotype is that many of the hardcover books in the genre - e.g., those by Candace Bushnell and Gigi Levangie Grazer etc - are concerned with fashion etc, as well as the iconic Shopaholic series you cite. But I always say that assuming all Chick-Lit books are like this based on this sample makes as much sense as thinking all mysteries must be cozies because you've only read Miss Marple.

Playground Monitor said...

I thought the day couldn't get much worse, then the DH called and said "I need two dozen deviled eggs for the office lunch tomorrow." ACK! Why couldn't they have told him earlier in the day while I was still out running errands. And tonight he's in class and won't get home til 9-ish so picking up eggs on his way home won't work.

Wave bye-bye to me as I drive to the Piggly Wiggly (and probably pay more for the eggs but I won't have to battle traffic on the main drag) for eggs. While I'm deviling, I'm making some for me too dammit!

Marilyn

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Drive carefully, Marilyn!

jenny gardiner said...

Piggly Wiggly! I love that place (and even wear my Piggly Wiggly shirt to the gym ;-)
Lauren--I have had that response so many times from editors over the years--and this is universal, be it print, radio, whatever. I cannot understand this because I love to laugh, and I love to make other people laugh. And call me crazy, but I think most people do like a good laugh. Don't they?
I think there is the aspect of the jaded editor, who actually may not like to laugh. Go figure!
And while there are many books, movies, etc that I absolutely love that aren't at all funny, I just gravitate toward humor as entertainment...

ellie said...

Chick lit is the ultimate in fun and enjoyment. They have laughs, love and entertainment galore. Why not enjoy this great genre. I love it.

Playground Monitor said...

Tell Janet Evanovich that Americans don't like to laugh.

Color me stupid! The DH needs two dozen deviled eggs, right? And I wanted to make some extra for us at home. So what do I buy? 2 1/2 dozen eggs. That will be 5 dozen freaking deviled eggs! It hit me halfway back home from the Pig. Duh!

Calgon, take me away! Please!

Marilyn

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Jenny, I agree most people like a good laugh. Of course it can be argued that humor is just about the most subjective style of writing out there, in terms of reader response, so writing a book that will make a wide spectrum of humans laugh is quite a task.

Thanks, Ellie!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Mariln, maybe you will need to throw a party? :)

Manic Mom said...

Lauren, you are an amazing writer! And the fact that you bang out these books so quickly--Awesome!

Now send me that copy of Vertigo? Can't wait to read it! : )

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Ha! I have nothing to do with who wins, MM, but thanks for your kind words. :)

robynl said...

Hi and welcome Lauren. You are a new author to me; your book sounds like an interesting read.
I think more love and laughter would go a long way in this world. I'm all for it.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Nice to met you, Robyn! L&L - love and laughter: it'd be great if we could take over the world with this.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I'm Baaaack! Ah, Diana...spend more time with me and you will understand that I am an advocate for the devil herself. I always ask the questions or bring up the topics I think get to the heart of stereotypes or make people talk about the Big Issues (like whether a romance has to have a Happy Ending)

But I thought you figured that out about me -- that I like to get people going -- in Atlanta after we ragged on your brother mercilessly... :)

Marilyn! I forbid you to have a bad day. There. Did that help?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ah, the marginalization of humor. It's in the same league as the facile ending. We Americans are still grasping at that damn Puritan sensibility left over from our past. If it feels good,or gets yummy endorphins flowing anywhere, for God's sake DON"T do it!

I think that point also lends itself to ones made about "acceptable" women's fiction, the Oprah stuff, the Lit w/ a cap L. It's all got to be veddy veddy serious, or damnably precious -- a time travel faux memoir about Albert Einstein's weeks spent as the lover of the empress Josephine -- to get a nod from the big lit powers that be.

Ack! Make me laugh, make me shiver, make me hot. I guess you can tell that none of my relatives came over on the Mayflower...

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Ha! My family came from Tussia and Italy, so no Mayflower here either.

But here's something to think about: Yes, humor is not granted the same respect as more "serious" fiction...but only when the humor is written by women. I'm not complaining, just observing, but look at the work of Nick Hornby, Tom Perrotta and Chris Moore: critical acclaim up the wazoo and yet they're hoeing the same row many Chick-Lit writers are hoeing.

Welcome back, hon!

Cindy Procter-King said...

Great discussion.

Lauren, it amazes me how many different genres you write in!

I admit I'm not one for the shoes and shopping type of chicklit, but I love humour in every way, shape and form. So some chicklit novels I get, others I wonder why they were published. But my reaction is by no means restricted to chicklit. I feel that way about romance, literary, suspense. It's all subjective.

And I hate it when writers bash other writers' genres. As someone with a literary background (as in an English degree and who didn't start writing or reading genre fiction until her late twenties), I hate it just as much when romance writers and chicklit writers bash literary writing as I do when literary writers bash romance and chicklit. Can't we all just get along?

Cindy

jenny gardiner said...

Einstein hooking up with Josephine? Now there's a visual!
Marilyn, I worry you are never going to eat a deviled egg for the rest of your life!!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Cindy, since I write in so many genres, hopefully one of them will be to your liking! :) Just as I like to read in many areas, I like to write in many. As for the bashers, I just can't get on that bus which is why there's an appendix at the back of THIS IS CHICK-LIT called "Reaching Across the Aisle" in which I asked each Chick contributor to recommend one Lit she was sure her own readership would love. Can't get much more High Road than that! :)

Playground Monitor said...

Deviled eggs anyone??? God, what a disaster! As any of you home ec majors might remember, older eggs peel more easily when they're boiled. Well, the eggs I got at the Pig must have come out of the chicken like yesterday because about 1/3 were so mauled after I peeled them that I couldn't use them for deviled eggs. I do have my 2 dozen for the DH's lunch tomorrow, but I also have a nice bowl of egg salad. Y'all wanna come over for egg salad sandwiches tomorrow? *g* We can chow down and talk romance.

Marilyn

The Deviot said...

I've said it before, and I've said it again, Like you said it's another case of stereotypical pigeonholing. It unfortunately happens in any creative medium. In high school when I didn't have the bristling collections of various artforms I do these days, I was big into comic books. Of course the prerequisite DC, and Marvel books were prominent, but to a lot of people who didn't "Get" comics, they would look at me as if I were childish for reading them. Because the average person probably thinks comics are kids things. But does the average person realize that from the golden age to today many comics had deep compelling storylines, sometimes with mature themes? Other people think it's all male dominated sci fi superhero books. But there's a bristling selection of comics centering around drama, comedy, horror, and more.
The same sorts of realizations are just now coming of age in the Electronic Gaming industry, and I'd suspect that the debates won't end until some of the older generations that hold these notions retire, and people who grew up reading chick lit, playing games, reading comics, watching anime, etc. take those places. Until then we have to try to deal, and educate whenever, and wherever possible

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Marilyn, your egg saga continues.

And, woo-hoo, The Deviot is here! Great thoughts, R.

ev said...

Speaking of comic books, the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter books are now coming out in comic book form starting with Guilty Pleasures.

Marilyn- next time try this- put the eggs in the pan, cover with water and bring to a boil (uncovered). Once they boil, slap the cover on tight, take them off the heat and let sit 20-25 minutes (or more if you forget like I do). Dump the water off, put the cover on and shake gently. the peels will mostly fall off, run cool water over them, gently, right in the pan. Peel the rest off the eggs. Works great, I have been doing it that way for years- my mom and I had a catering business and we boiled lots of eggs!!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Back again and sorry for not being able to stop in more. I think Lauren has facilitated a terrific discussion today.

It's so interesting to learn how writers and readers within another genre define what they love to write and read. Frankly, we spend so much time here working through our feelngs about what we love to read, it's kinda cool to know we're not the only ones who are misunderstood.

I appreciate devious' comments. I wrote in one of my first Romance: B(u) the Book columns that the only readers given less respect than romance readers were folks who read comics. I may have gotten that backwards, in retrospect, but, again, I think mass-consumed "art," be it comics or genre fiction just feels good to consume. And that makes folks uncomfortable, the old "if I enjoy it, it must not have value. If someone 'important' says it's valuable, that's a different story."

I really dig your point, Lauren, about fiction written by women being marginalized when men write something similar. I've had discussions with editors of regional lit review mags that feature thrillers, but scoff at romance. One told me that the books they review have to have something important and unique like -- get ready -- political intrigue.

But the bottom line is that romance is still doing pretty gosh darned well despite that attitude. And I'm not convinced the "outside" world's opinion matters all that much. It sure doesn't to me, but my feeling about that has changed since I've spent more time with women who love reading and writing romance.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Michelle, thank you so much for having me - you have a terrific blog here!