Volume 9, Issue 2 University of Houston
‘Chick Lit’ breaks through female literary stereotypes
Collection of short stories written by women doesn’t boast
a feminist agenda
by KELSIE HAHN
For any ladies out there tired of reading about shopping, dieting and dating divas comes This is Not Chick Lit, a short story collection edited by Elizabeth Merrick.
This is Not Chick Lit certainly strives, largely with success, to live up to its name. The 18 authors included in the collection are not writing for “chicks,” as they deal with themes such as love, acceptance, jealousy, lust, responsibility, compassion and truth.
Look past the slightly painful black and hot pink cover and you’ll find stories meant for the mature, literary female reader. The vast majority of the stories focus on or are told from the point of view of women in various stages of life.
The book itself was a pleasant read, though some of the more experimental forms of prose were a bit confusing the first time around. Several of the authors had an irritating tendency to wrap up their stories with an ambiguous “Told you so” or “This is what you should have learned” line, which can give readers negative attitudes toward trying to learn or remember what was meant to be imparted.
Despite the collection being marketed toward female readers, it does not read like it has a feminist agenda or any other generalization that would call its literary value into question. This is Not Chick Lit is, quite simply, what it claims to be: literary fiction by women about life. The characters are well developed, compelling and unique.
Merrick has also done a good job of balancing heavier and lighter tones through the collection in her choice of stories and their proximity to one another. Many of the stories hit on heavy themes such as neglect, abuse or tragedy, while others take a quirkier look at life from the down-and-out public relations expert who tries to turn around a genocidal dictator in “Selling the General” to the documentary team following, and influencing, an iconic historical figure in “Joan, Jeanne, La Pucelle, Maid of Orleans.”
The stories were interesting and entertaining and will have women thinking about facets of their own lives in relation to the works. Your world may not be revolutionized by the book, but it’s worth the time to discover writers with well-developed talent and imaginations in this intellectually stimulating collection.
This is Not Chick Lit:
Original Stories by America's Best Women Writers
Edited by Elizabeth Merrick
Random House Trade Paperbacks
Bottom Line: Great for a few hours curled up under a blanket without getting preached at or catered to.
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