Women’s studies, my ass

If you want to read chick lit, read chick lit. If you see yourself reflected in The Devil Wears Prada, that’s your affair. But try to tell me Lauren Weisberger’s books are recording my history, and you’ve gone way too fucking far.

That’s exactly what Rebecca Traister has done, though — in the process of conflating Ms. Weisberger’s cardboard tales of single-girl-at-the-slicks woe with the works of Jane Austen and Margaret Atwood. Never mind Ms. Traister’s recent genius observation that the men she encounters are different from those you’d find in a Candace Bushnell novel. You don’t say!

Listen, I concede that all kinds of books by women may be categorized as “chick lit”; given the way the pink stuff sells, naturally publishers will try to stretch the label until it becomes contentless. And admittedly, I’m no expert on the genre. But I happen to have read some of Lauren Weisberger’s writing. (If you haven’t, try this on for size: “Another pair of seven-hundred-dollar shoes sacrificed to my complete and utter lack of grace under pressure: this clocked in as my third such breakage this month.”)

To suggest that Weisberger’s some sort of modern-day historian, or a Jane Austen or Edith Wharton, or that women can’t call themselves feminists if they don’t embrace every single-girl-husband-search jeremiad — no matter how badly written, or how regressive (see comment number 7) — is to do a disservice not only to one’s sisters but to contemporary literature as a whole.

(Salon link via Number One Hit Song.)


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