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Breakups, Prada, and Bridget Jones – The World of Chick Lit

You’ve probably seen them on display in your local bookstore: novels with bright, lively covers and stylized female characters. Dubbed “chick lit,” this is a fun and often personal genre targeting modern women who want an infusion of pop culture and everyday ordeals in their literature.

The genre was launched with Bridget Jones’s Diary, and includes novels such as The Devil Wears Prada, Sex in the City, and The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing. But what is it that separates chick lit from mainstream women’s literature?

Plot vs. Tone

The authors of This is Not Chick Lit, an anthology of stories by women writers, dismiss the plot of every chick lit novel as, “Girl in big city desperately searches for Mr. Right in between dieting and shopping for shoes. Girl gets dumped (sometimes repeatedly). Girl finds Prince Charming.”

But fans of the genre argue that the difference is largely in the tone of the writing, not the plot. Chick lit, they say, refuses to take itself too seriously and therefore can humorously explore relationships and other modern-life situations. “It’s like having a best friend tell you about her life,” Chicklitbooks.com explains. “Or watching various characters go through things you have gone through yourself.”

Expanding to Stay Modern

The world has changed drastically over the last decade, and chick lit has evolved along with it. Its writers have explored the issues of race, religion, sexuality, values and gender roles at home and at the office. New York Times writer Rachel Donadio noted, “Chick lit is proving an extremely adaptable genre, one that has tapped into larger social shifts in places like India and post-Communist Eastern Europe, where traditional values collide in unexpected ways with a new economic order.” Though it may have originally relied on pink covers and stereotypes, chick lit has been exploring new territory.

You Made This Drink…

In the Lindsay Moss novel You Made This Drink, You Drink It, Lexxie Parker is a dancer who struggles to rise above her family's alcoholism. Barely making it to the end of her twenties with her sanity and humor intact, she's faced with the ultimate challenge: Planning the wedding of her dreams with the Queen of Lunacy--her mother. “My work is relatable and identifiable. I think that’s why it resonates with readers,” says Moss.

She has received positive reviews from readers and the media alike, and credits her success to her truthful and direct writing style. “Women are very honest, especially when they discuss their own lives. They want a ‘no beating around the bush’ story,” says Moss. “People don’t always want to admit the dysfunction in their lives, but I’ve embraced it.”

Though You Made This Drink, You Drink It may not fit in the original chick lit mold, it exemplifies the expanding genre. “I’ve had many men who told me they enjoyed the book,” Moss continues, “They say it’s a pink book, but it’s not a pink read.”

Does this represent the future of the genre? Moss has just finished adapting the book into a screenplay, and has been working with a Hollywood producer to get the project to the screen. With the genre’s adaptability and Moss’ honest, realistic approach to writing about modern life, both appear to be built to last.

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