Monday, March 31, 2008 posted by Jen at 3/31/2008 11:59:00 AM
Reminder: NYC event next Tuesday, April 8, at 7:30 at the Lincoln Triangle B&N.
Philadelphia event next Wednesday April 9 at St. Peter's School, 319 Lombard Street, 7 p.m., with desserts (where you can have your cake and eat it, too!)
Philadelphia event on Sunday, April 13 at the Free Library's Central Branch, 1901 Vine Street, 4 p.m..
I'll post more events and a few local TV appearances as they get closer. Meanwhile, I did this Q and A with Sweden's most popular literary blog. On the chance that you're not Swedish and/or you don't read literary blogs, I'm putting it here. Enjoy!
1. Hi Jen, and thanks for agreeing to do this interview! What are you reading right now?
On my night table: Roald Dahl’s GOING SOLO, Max Apple’s THE JEW OF HOME DEPOT, Leslie Schnur’s LATE NIGHT TALKING, Sue Miller’s THE SENATOR’S WIFE, Stephen King’s THE BACHMAN BOOKS, and SO THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE FOR: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO BREASTFEEDING (it's a little hard-line on the whole nurse-or-die thing -- Formula! It's the devil's own soft drink! -- but generally helpful).
2. Your new novel, “Certain Girls”, marks the return of Cannie Shapiro, the heroine of your debut novel “Good in Bed”. What was it like to bring her back to life ten years later? Is she still the same old Cannie, or has she changed in some ways?
I really had a good time re-animating Cannie and writing in her voice again. In terms of changes, Cannie would be the first to tell you that she’s seven pounds thinner than when we saw her last. She’s also married, and the mother of an almost-teenage daughter, which represents a big departure from being carefree and single…but in terms of her essential nature, her sense of humor, her view of the world, I think all of that’s still the same.
3. There’s been a rather heated discussion concerning the chick lit genre in Sweden as well as the US over the last couple of years. Many female writers refuse to refer to their work as chick lit because they find the genre demeaning and shallow. Curtis Sittenfeld famously began a (not-so-flattering) review of Melissa Bank’s “The Wonder Spot” – which many of us here at Bokhora loved, by the way! – with the words “To suggest that another woman's ostensibly literary novel is chick lit feels catty, not unlike calling another woman a slut -- doesn't the term basically bring down all of us?”. Meow! Why do you think it is that so many women have a problem with referring to their work as chick lit?
There was an interview with another writer that I read where she said that she was dismayed by having her work called chick lit when she realized that it’s absolutely never meant as a compliment. I think that’s the problem writers can have with it – the label, even the word “chick” comes with the built-in assumption that you’ve written something frothy at best and stupid, or even dangerous, at worst (yes, my work has been called harmful to America, a comment which, I have to confess, delighted me. There’s nothing like feeling that you’re powerful enough to be a menace to your country when you’re tooling around in your minivan on your way to pick up baby wipes at Target).
The good news is, no matter how the publishers and booksellers label the books, and what the critics say (that’s if they bother to say anything at all), readers know what they’re getting with quote-unquote chick lit. They know they’ll laugh, they know they’ll identify with the heroine and her dilemmas, they know her voice will be familiar and that her story will end well. And if that’s what chick lit is, I don’t think it’s so terrible, or so dangerous. I grew up worshipping at the altar of Susan Isaacs, who writes smart, funny, feisty heroines who almost always got their man and their happily-ever-after, so the idea that I grew up to write female-centric commercial fiction that’s enjoyed by lots of people isn’t such a bad one.
3. Do you dog ear books? (This is a constant debate between us at Bokhora.) Do you have any faux pas when it comes to how you treat your books?
I don’t dog-ear, or mark books, unless I’m reviewing them or planning on writing about them on my weblog, in which case all bets are off. I do leave them face-down, spine-cracked, on my bed, or hanging over the arm of a couch…and I have way, way too many of them. Books in the bedroom, books in the living room, books in the car in case I get stuck in traffic, and on every available ledge and windowsill. That’s my biggest book faux pas: I have a terrible time getting rid of them.
4. You took a Creative Writing course for Joyce Carol Oates when you got your degree at Princeton. That must have been amazing! What was the best piece of advice she gave you about writing?
That the real work isn’t in writing, it’s in rewriting. Getting that messy, imperfect first draft down on the page is only the beginning of the process.
5. Finally: I hold you 100% responsible for my current Tom Perrotta obsession. Thanks for steering me towards this incredibly talented and readable author! Your blog is a great place to go to for reading tips, and when you wrote about having picked up several novels just because they had blurbs by Tom Perrotta, I couldn’t help myself. I’m happy to say that the whole blurb system works! I have to ask, though: which were the novels, and did you end up liking them?
One of them was A GOOD AND HAPPY CHILD, which I found frustrating: It’s one thing to write a story where the protagonist can’t decide if he’s possessed by demons or just mentally ill, but I felt, in that case, like the author hadn’t really decided. The other was I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER, which I liked very much, but also found frustrating because it was a comic novel that got reviewed in very big-deal places….and I guarantee you, if the book had been I LOVE YOU, BEN COOPER it would have been dismissed as an inconsequential piece of you-know-what.
Welcome to A Moment of Jen, author Jennifer Weiner's constantly-updated take on books, baby, and news of the world. Email me at jen (a) jenniferweiner.com.