A Moment of Jen
THE NEXT BEST THING — In Stores July 3rd!

Thursday, August 18, 2005
posted by Jen at 8/18/2005 04:27:00 PM

Wake up. Change kid’s diaper. Drink coffee. Scroll through Beatrice, check out Southern Comfort, zip over to Bookslut….ooh, what’s this? Eight Reasons Why Chick Lit Authors Should be Kicked Until They’re Dead?

Excellent, I thought. There's nothing like a nice, bracing bit of understatement first thing in the morning.(Especially when it’s August, and there’s nothing good on cable, and being kicked to death sounds better – well, swifter – than being stomped to death with Elizabeth Why-Won’t-Anybody-Publish-MY-Novel-it-must-be-chick-lit's-fault Merritt’s pretty little shoe).

As it turns out, without even trying, I’ve managed to become the “apotheosis of (an) anachronistic belief system” which holds that “shopping is divine, a career is cool, but the only life goal of any real importance is finding a man to procreate with.”

The evidence? I posed “with husband and spawn in People magazine.”

Understand that I’m thrilled to be thought of as the apotheosis of anything. It’s a much cooler title than working mother.

I also think Lucy would get a kick out of being referred to as “spawn” (nicely Satanic undertones, plus a little more decorous than “crotch dropping.”)

But really. Doesn’t anyone who’s made even a cursory perusal of the supermarket magazine rack know that the picture was less about the values chick lit in general and my books in particular espouse than it was about the values of People magazine?

Everyone in People poses with wife/husband and kids. Everyone. Everyone from famous authors (John Irving, a few weeks back) to NASCAR drivers to country musicians to politicians to that couple who adopted eighteen kids with brain damage and raised them on ten bucks a week and donated canned goods.

You can’t be in People if you’re not willing to give them that shot. And God help you if you don’t have a wife/husband and child to pose with. I can only assume the editors keep a bunch of them on hand and provide them for you.

I recognize that there’s plenty of chick lit that turns the wedding/husband/baby into the brass ring that every woman’s grasping for, but my books don’t really fit that paradigm.

In GOOD IN BED, Cannie finds a man to procreate with….and he dumps her. The guy she eventually marries isn’t the father of her child. Hardly a scenario to thrill the reactionary heart.

In IN HER SHOES, Rose gets the guy, but Maggie, the irresponsible sex kitten, gets an education. She gets herself. Her happy ending has nothing to do with an engagement ring or a poufy white dress.

In LITTLE EARTHQUAKES, all four women are married, but nobody’s marriage is perfect, and motherhood’s depicted as rocky terrain -- the exact opposite of the Vaseline-lensed pro-natal fantasy of shows like “A Baby Story.”

And in GOODNIGHT NOBODY, the heroine is in serious conflict as to whether any of her choices, starting with her husband, were the right ones (and she does absolutely no shopping. She’s got three kids and no time).

To sum it up, posing with my husband and child means that I’ve got a husband and a child. Doesn’t mean I think everyone should go out and get a husband and a child. Doesn’t mean my books say that everyone should go out and get a husband and a child, any more than John Irving posing with his wife and son means that he's the right-wing Prince of Darkness.

Now where’d I put that Kevlar?
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