Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Label Me Exasperated

I dislike the term “women’s fiction”, but I have to admit, I do like “chick-lit”. The new-fangled genre descriptor sounds fun, light, and upbeat, all characteristics I look for in a book. Sadly, the term “chick-lit” also now carries the stigma of being fun, light, upbeat “women’s fiction”, and thus not for serious-minded, self-proclaimed sensitive intellectuals. As a reader, I could care less, and as an author, I’m not too concerned either. But really it’s the principle of it all. Fun reads can have equally as much impact on a person, and they can make you smile, maybe even laugh. So, if you remember that little tidbit of information you learned in elementary school, a chick-lit read is a better work-out. (tallying the muscles used for each)

Apparently “fun, light, and upbeat” wasn’t nearly descriptive enough, so now the hip “lit” add-on is being slapped on mini genres right and left. The publishing world has been totally compartmentalized so that a naïve or indiscriminate shopper won’t accidentally step outside the lines of his or her preferred genre. Today there is chick-lit, hen-lit (for slightly older hipsters), mommy-lit (for hip new mommies), lad-lit (for men who want their chance at hip too), lady-lit (for sophisticated but still hip readers?) and on and on ad nauseum. Do any of these hip guys and chicks out there browsing through the bookstores or the discount stores actually know about these distinctions? Or are they for authors and publishers only? Soon (if this is not already the case), these books will be organized, not according to author, but according to reader type, and there will be a little sliver of bookcase for divorcee lit, single-mom lit, gay best-friend lit (male, of course, separated from female), college coed lit, and, well, you get the picture.

Here’s an idea: Maybe people should just browse around, branch out, try other genres. If you like funny, try funny in every genre. If you like dark, try dark in different genres. YOU JUST MIGHT LIKE IT. Better to be well-read and aware of your preferences than biased and prejudiced against an entire genre. Only think what you might be missing…

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