A conversation in the comments of Janelle’s review of Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married got me thinking: is chick lit dead?
Six or seven years ago we seemed to be drowning in chick lit. From Kinsella to Bunshell, Cabot to Weiner, chick lit was a force to be reckoned with. I remember reading anything Red Dress Ink, published (a company, which, by the looks of it hasn’t published anything since 2008) and dreamed about writing for them myself one day. Chick lit was everywhere.
What happened? Sure, there’s still some out there, but the good stuff (in my opinion) is harder to find, and the pickings are slim.
An article last year in Slate cites the recession as the cause of decline in chick lit, and while the recession hit all book sales, I find it hard to believe that the recession killed an entire genre. Are we supposed to believe that women can’t write fun, smart novels without talking about shoes and shopping? Look at the novels of Jane Green and Megan Crane; none of their characters were especially wealthy or clothes obsessed. Yet, it’s been over two years since Crane published a novel. (I’m aware she’s publishing under a pseudonym for Harlequin, but romance and chick lit are two very different genres)
NPR posted a sort of response to the Slate article saying that chick lit isn’t dead that the "shoe lit" of Kinsella and Bunshell was never an accurate portrayal of the genre despite receiving most of the attention and sales, which is true.
What I’m starting to realize, the more I think about the present state of chick lit is that the genre has grown up. The writers whose tales of fun and conflicted twenty-somethings once drew me in, now write about fun and conflicted marrieds with children and dealing divorce or marital issues, something I, as a still twenty-something myself, can’t relate to (maybe it says more about my life choices that at this point in my life I’m still eating ramen and worrying about both paying rent and buying groceries this month, but I have a feeling I’m not the only one).
There doesn’t seem to be a new generation of chick lit writers coming in to fulfill what I want in my chick lit: stories that don’t pander to me, but represent a reflection of where I am in my life (while also satisfying the romantic in me). At least, without the main character being a witch, vampire, werewolf or other fantastical creature (I love those books, too, but they’re not what I remember as the “golden age” of chick lit). Perhaps its because chick lit is no longer seen as viable market, so publishers are buying up more YA, the current publishing craze.
Now, I read a lot of different genres and I know that an entire genre isn't just going to "die," despite my initial hypothesizing, but there is a definite absence of fun, smart women's fiction these days.
Since I feel like I'm on the verge of rambling, I turn to you, my fellow chick lit lovers, am I wrong? Am I simplifying (or complicating) things? What do you think about the current state of chick lit?
And, most importantly, have you read some new, good chick lit lately?