Archive for May, 2011

This Book Should Be Pink

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Men may not admit to reading chick lit but they for sure occasionally write it.  It’s hard to immediately identify their work as such.  Unlike in the case of their female counterparts, publishers don’t feel the need to print their books in tell-tale pastels.  Perhaps this is so as to not offend their male writers who delusionally believe they’ve written an admittedly emotional but still masculine missive on the inner strength to love and laugh.  Or perhaps, publishers, looking to their bottom lines, see these writers as an opportunity to seduce male readers interested in a ‘delicious’ read but who wouldn’t dream of picking up Elizabeth Noble or Sophie Kinsella.  For those readers, there is Tony Parsons.  And if anyone doubts the book’s machismo cred, there is Darth Vader on the cover for good measure.

Go Long

Friday, May 20th, 2011

One reads for many reasons – education, information, to pass the time – but if one reads voluntarily, whatever the cause, it’s a pleasure.  But it’s also an investment, not only in time, but intellect and, at times, emotion, as one gets to know characters and their lives.  In a recent discussion in my book club, it was agreed (by at least some) that this is why novels were preferred to short stories.  Who wants to make that kind of investment only to have it end after eight pages?  Or, alternatively, short stories are often intentionally episodic, capturing only a moment, at which point I often don’t care, no matter how well written, because I’ve not been afforded the opportunity for investment.  Of course, there are exceptions – Alice Munro, Alice Munro, Alice Munro – but not everyone can pack a novel’s worth of wallop into a few pages.

What Happened to My Face?

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

I get that chick lit would want to signal to its demographic that it should “pick me” by making its book colours that no self-respecting man (and many woman) would want to be caught reading (unless they, along with the book, were trying to be ironic, which is hard to pull off on a subway platform or any other public reading place).  Leading to the obvious conclusion that a book can be judged by its colour.  In this case, mauve.  What I don’t get is why chick lit book covers inevitably are graced by faceless women – women whose images are cut off at the head, or are wearing big hats that hide their features, or are simply turned the wrong way.  Is it so that the (likely female) reader can better identity with the heroine?  That is, imagine that the svelte figure on the cover is her and not have someone else’s face on top of it to inconveniently prove otherwise?  Are we that easily duped?

For those of you wanted to know, I am happy to report that the original chick lit book did have a face … of sorts.  But after it became a movie, we all wanted to look like Renée Zellweger … obscuring her face.

It’s Not Me

Friday, May 6th, 2011

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my protagonists are often female.  Sometimes their age is similar to mine; often they are much younger.  They have yet to be much older.  They sometimes live in Toronto.  Sometimes they don’t.   None of them are economists but most are professionals (unless they’re too young).  Sometimes they’re married.  Sometimes they’re not.  They’re not always Canadian.  One would think at this stage that I have not narrowed the demographic of my protagonists that much.  One would also think that female, maybe professional, maybe married, maybe living in Toronto, aged 20-40 would not strongly suggest that my protagonist is me.  Nonetheless, family and friends sometime think otherwise.  This is not because they find my characters bear a striking resemblance to me.  In fact, they may dispute my “self-characterization”.  Even so, upon reading of particular events, they will say “I never knew that happened to you!”  Because, well, it didn’t.