I really was going to do some work on my novel in progress last night. Honestly. Then I saw this article in The New York Times, and my rant switch came on. (If you can't get to it--the article, that is, not my rant switch--try using Bugmenot.com.) The gist of it is that thanks to Ellen Archer and Pamela G. Dorman, publisher Hyperion is starting a new imprint called Voice. According to the Times's Motoko Rich, "Voice is specifically focusing on women from their mid-30’s and older and will have a resolutely anti-chick-lit bent." Rich adds that 10 professional women will meet twice a year "[t]o help Voice pinpoint what women want."
Well, I'm sure some highly paid consultant has told the women who came up with this idea otherwise, but judging from how much of it is in bookstores, what quite a few women want is chick lit. My own tastes don't run toward it, but I don't see it as something that women need to be saved from reading, any more than we need to be saved from reading romance novels or historical fiction or any other type of genre fiction. The fact that the saviors riding to our rescue are other women doesn't make me one iota more grateful for their intervention. It seems I ought to be grateful, though, because Dorman is quoted as saying, “'People are overwhelmed by choice, and what they want is someone who is self-selecting for them.'”
So what have the folks at Hyperion self-selected for all of us women over 35 to read instead of all that chick lit being written, edited, published, and read by so many misguided women? First on the platter is The Feminine Mistake by Leslie Bennetts. "Ms. Bennetts argues that women who 'opt out' of careers to raise children forfeit the financial, intellectual, emotional and even medical benefits of working outside the home."
Well, I'm going to save Hyperion a little market research now. I'm over 35. I'm a woman. But I'm not going to be buying The Feminine Mistake, because frankly, I think the last thing the publishing world needs is another book by a woman telling other women that there's something wrong with them because they choose to live lives that are not exactly like hers.
Now, what am I going to do with the money I save by not buying Bennetts' book? After resting up a while (that choice is just so overwhelming), I'm going to go to the bookstore and look for a book that has a great big shoe on it. Or a great big purse. Or a great big shoe and a great big purse. And I'm going to buy it. Then for good measure, I'm going to find a book with a hunky, barechested guy wearing a kilt on its cover. The boldest, most plaid, most manly kilt there is. And I'm going to buy it. Because I don't like being told by women how to spend my hard-earned book money any more than I like being told by men how to spend it.
As the chick lit ladies know, shopping can be such fun.