Can't We All Get Along?
Check out the November 30th and December 2 entries in Meg's Diary, as in Meg Cabot of The Princess Diaries and other books. She clearly has her knickers in a twist over literary novelists. I've never been clear on what literary novels are, though Meg Cabot would argue that they're books with unhappy endings.
Meg gets the ball rolling by complaining that Curtis Sittenfeld called Melissa Bank's book The Wonder Spot chick lit in a review. Them's fighting words!
She seems to think Sittenfeld is a literary author (also fighting words, at least to Meg) though I'm not sure why. Because Sittenfeld's book Prep is about a private school and not a public one? Because she's a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop? It can't be because Prep has an unhappy ending because Meg hasn't read it so she doesn't know how it ends.
I want to be clear here that I haven't read Prep, either. Not because I don't like literary novels, but because I don't like books about private schools. Looking for Alaska was the last straw.
But back to Meg. She quotes Sittenfeld as saying in her review of The Wonder Spot "“To suggest that another woman's ostensibly literary novel is chick lit feels catty, not unlike calling another woman a slut -- doesn't the term basically bring down all of us? And yet, with ''The Wonder Spot,'' it's hard to resist.”" Then Meg says that she's pretty sure that Sittenfeld inferred that Melissa Bank is a slut.
If I were being catty, I'd point out that I'm pretty sure (though not positive) that Meg used "inferred" incorrectly. But I hate it when someone makes a big deal about pointing out another person's slip-ups with words. I also hate the whole chick lit vs literary lit battle. Also the highbrow literature vs lowbrow literature battle. All readers are important, valuable people. What they choose to read is what makes a piece of literature valuable, if only to them. We don't have a right to knock readers' taste by disparaging what they choose to read as chick lit or...what? Shall we call it lit lit?
The whole chick lit/lit lit and highbrow/lowbrow argument isn't about books. It's about authors' egos. Everyone wants to be better than someone else. Or, at least, not worse than someone else. Name calling (chick lit, lit lit, slut) does not make anyone a winner. This is a battle that can't be won. Let it go.
Of course, I'm speaking as someone whose work has never been accused of being chick lit or literary.
Thanks to A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy for the link.