Chick-lit — enough gum to chew on?

chick-litHas your book club read any chick-lit?  If so, is there enough meat, or gum, for a good discussion? 

What is chick-lit?  Think young urban women obsessed with men, sex, possessions, travel, and partying. Think Sex in the City, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, or Chasing Harry Winston

The title of a recent New York Times article, “On the Beach, Under a Tiffany Blue Sky,” situates chick-lit smack in the middle of a beach towel—as escapist summer reading.

Beach reading or not, you can imagine older feminists yanking at the bottoms of their bathing suits in disdain.  Is this what all the fuss was about—so daughters could end up as boy-crazy, status-seeking materialists? 

But maybe chick-lit is more serious?  Maybe it’s a reaction against the earnestness of the previous generation.  Here’s author Melissa Banks in a 1999 Salon interview:

The women of my [younger] generation were brought up to think of themselves in terms of what they did rather than of being married or unmarried, and it took on this huge weight.  Work was suddenly supposed to be a much bigger thing than work can ever be. You’re supposed to give your soul to it—and ... to be as dedicated to your work as you would be to another person.

Questions for book clubs:

  1. Is chick-lit a rebellion:  “not-your-mother’s-feminism”?  Or is it a second-generation taunt at men: ”Anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better”?  (If men can take charge of their own sexuality, careers, dreams and desires, why can’t women?)
  2. Should chick-lit be taken with a grain of salt (or sand)?  Or does it offer an interesting insight into a post-feminist era.

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