7.16.2004

Columnist Laura Billings points out one potential reason for  the lately lamented falling U.S. readership rates in the St. Paul Pioneer Press in a terrific piece entitled "A Defense Against Dullness:"


Chick lit? Ick: I loved "Bridget Jones's Diary." I even enjoyed the sequel. What I don't enjoy is going to the "new fiction" section of my local bookstore and finding six dozen books based on the very same premise, with designs as recognizable as Harlequins, hip renderings of Gen Xers in kitten heels looking for love and shopping at Prada.

Women have typically read more fiction than men, in part, I suspect, because we like to see how other people live, whether it's in a grass hut in Zambia or the queen's chamber rooms in the Scottish Highlands. Reading used to take us somewhere, but lately, it just seems to take us shopping.

Provocative thought.  But not nearly so simultaneously stultifying and vexing as this lede from an article in the San Luis Obispo Tribune:


If Madame Bovary arrived on the fiction scene today, she’d flaunt a Hermès bag, Prada pumps and a sleek cell phone for managing her neurotic love life.

[At first, reading that made me laugh out loud.  But then I thought, what if it's true? Would Madame Bovary even arrive on the fiction scene today? Would she survive chick lit and become an icon, or split too soon after a Plum Sykes look-alike threatens her with a knuckle sandwich for cutting in line for the ladies' room at Pastis? ]
 
This koan of wisdom from an otherwise execreble re-tread of a tired, tired, tired subject totally piques my interest.  Discuss, please if you will, your thoughts on the concept - Madame Bovary, with a cell phone, stalking her boss or trying to figure out a way to get back from the Hamptons after she loses her shoes during a carb-induced blackout, or whatever. 

And also, just as an aside: English majors pushing chick lit? What the fuck is up with that? These are troubled times we're living in, troubled times indeed.

--Lauren


 

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