Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Chick Lit/Hen Lit - Literary Fiction...or Not?

I was over at Bronwyn Parry's blog today and found a quote by Otto Penzler "dean of mystery-writing in America" who says about the authors of the chick lit field:

"The women who write (cozies) stop the action to go shopping, create a
recipe, or take care of cats," he says. "Cozies are not serious
literature. They don't deserve to win. Men take (writing) more
seriously as art. Men labor over a book to make it literature..."

Well, ho-ney, maybe I should have grabbed a cup of coffee to calm me down first, but I couldn't wait to air my feelings on the subject in Bronwyn's comment section:

I believe that books fall into two main categories: literary and
entertainment (fun, good reads). I don't feel that anyone should "cut down" a
book just because it isn't in the literary category and perhaps they just might
be missing out on a good, fun read (chick lit, e.g.) just because they were
listed in the entertainment category.

I write something that's been thrown in the "hen lit" category which basically is defined as older protaganists with a kick ass attitude, but I wouldn't call it "literary."Now, would that make my book less worthy? I guess it depends on what you feel is literary or not. Since it does not fall in the literary field, and does fall in the entertainment field, am I supposed to hold my head in shame?Of course not. My "hen lit" characters do not stop what they are doing to "go shopping, create a recipe, or take care of cats;" they take on the world and show the readers what strength they have and how far they will go to prove their wit and intelligence.

Granted, there are chick lits that do do these things (and a lot of them are fun reads because I have almost a whole library of them), but I feel that chick/hen lit is growing away from that and are becoming stronger characters within themselves.I know there are a lot of chick/hen lit writers/authors who are discouraged that the
industry thinks of their works as not serious.These are very serious writers
that feel that maybe, just maybe, the world needs something else to read besides
literary fiction and are ready to give these readers what they are craving

Sorry for going on so, but everytime I come along and find yet another place
that condemns chick lit (not yours..I was speaking of Otto Penzler in this
respect), it really gets into my crawl because these books pass every test from
agent on up to the big NY houses before they are allowed to be published. If
these agents - and I'm talking about top agencies - and publishers thought of
this genre as nothing but "women who go shopping...," then what does that say
about these agencies/publishers?

No, these books are not literary, per say, but that still does not put them in a category that is beneath them. They stand on their own and I believe that you will be hearing great things from these authors in the future.Thanks for letting me rant. for that coffee...;o)

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