Chick Lit Genre

I was struck by this coincidence that Robert Service came to the forefront of my attention just the other week. My mother-in-law (raised in Manila) spends 4 months yearly in the Philippines while I water her plants and collect the mail. She has dozens of Danielle Steel books. I am always curious about genres (whether they truly exist and if so why the exist.) I also feel inadequate when I realize there is some large area or subject that I have never explored. I am fairly certain that if I were to read a Harlequin novel, I would be experiencing bone fide “chick lit.” I “borrowed” her copy of Danielle Steel’s novel called “Miracle.” Then I realized that there must be a lot in Google on the topic of “chick lit” and “guy lit” (but “lad lit”) sounds more classy. I read all of Hemingway as a young teen and never gave much thought to it’s gender orientation. By the way, there is also “hen lit” (which sounds rather demeaning) and many other sub genres. I have peeked over the shoulder of some black girls reading on the subway a genre of “black chick lit” which is QUITE steamy and explicit.

It seems that “chick lit” is more rigorously defined than “guy lit” (“lad lit”)

This link is rather helpful to nail down what might be considered Guy Lit:


About a Boy and High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Train Man by Hitori Nakano

early works of Ernest Hemingway are an intense meditation on manliness. Esp. The Sun Also Rises, the Nick Adams stories, the story “Fifty Grand,” but many of his other short stories too.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Jack Kerouac

Ian Fleming is almost guy-lit, Hermann Melville deals with manly men in Moby Dick (nothing manlier than ripped shirts and bare chests, mingled with constant use of the word “sperm”) and Frank Miller deals with manliness in the 300 graphic novel, however he tends to steer off the course of sensitive guy-land.

Patrick F. McManus, he’s an outdoor humorist writer, incredibly funny and deals with the exaggerated issues of being a man.

I think Carl Hiaisson might fit the bill perfectly. Especially Skinny Dip.

Jack London

Tom Clancy is a big one. War, missles, spies, military stuff. Feel the testorone.

One could argue that a lot of the fic written by Cherryh could be placed in that genre – male protagonists struggling to redefine their identities. I would suggest Finity’s End, Merchanter’s Luck, Tripoint, the Foreigner novels, maybe Cyteen, all carry that theme, along other themes like alienation, culture, socialisation, genetic manipulation, effects of environment upon the society it houses, loyalty, language

..likes Cussler because his books are like Harlequin Romances for men! I’ve never read any myself, but from his descriptions I’d say they definitely sound like guy lit. Ditto for Tom Clancy, Patrick Robinson and Stephen Coonts.

Read any of Lawrence Block’s TANNER series! Start with the earliest you can find and go forward from there.

1 The Thief Who Couldn’t Sleep
2 The Cancelled Czech
3 Tanner’s Twelve Swingers
4 Two for Tanner aka The Scoreless Thai
5 Tanner’s Tiger
6 Here Comes a Hero aka Tanner’s Virgin
7 Me Tanner, You Jane
8 Tanner on Ice

Search the web for Robert W. Service: 19th Century poems (eew!) about gold prospectors in the Yukon (yay!) shooting, fighting, freezing, and skirt-chasing across the frozen north. For extra credit, memorize “The Cremation of Sam McGee” and tell everyone how sensitive you are.

Australian author Nick Earls. In particular, Zigzag Street, Bachelor Kisses, World of Chickens and 48 Shades of Brown. The last one inparticular sounds perfect for you. It’s about a young man going through his last year at school, trying to balance family, study and falling in love.

The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason .A quiet guy asked to do a relatively normal thing,travels to Burma,nothing is ever normal again.

Don’t forget you have Edgar Rice Burroughs with his Tarzan series also the Venus series; Pellucidar series Caspak series; Barsoom and Moon series too. Plus Dean Koontz; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle after all Sherlock Holmes would be considered manly especially since he fought criminals and faced death all the time with Dr. Watson. Robert E. Howard and his Conan The Barbarian books then you would have all the hard boiled Detectives like Sam Spade;
Westerns by Zane Gray; Luke Short and Louis L’ Amour I think all of these Authors and their characters fall into the manly or macho type category.


Tom Jones by Henry Fielding is Lad Lit no doubt

… (to be continued with Chick Lit examples, first and foremost, Sex In The City by Candice Bushnell)

According to Ferris, Chick lit often features hip, stylish, career-driven[1] female protagonists, usually in their twenties and thirties. The women featured in these novels may be obsessed with appearance or have a passion for shopping.[1]

However, this has been disputed. In Publisher’s Weekly, Amy Sohn redefines the genre as being about women who can stand on their own two feet.[3] This same article refutes the previous stereotypes. Library Journal also states that Ethnic Chick Lit counts in the definition, Mommy Lit and other sub sub genres which don’t include the 20-30-something protagonist who is worried about shopping, boys and sex. [4]

The main feature of Chick lit is the protagonist who is female, often, but not always trying to make it in the modern world dealing with issues that women face. This can range from women in a contemporary world, such as Waiting to Exhale or it can deal with Modernist or Historical world, such as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple or Toni Morrison’s Beloved. The issues can deal with more than shopping such as Marian Keyes’s Watermelon which deal with how to be a mother in a modern world or dealing with religion such as in Christian chick lit. The market of Chick lit covers a range of ages and topics, which concern women and often where the focus is not on romance.
[edit] Variations

According to Ferris, Chick lit was started by earlier writers, such as Jane Austen and the Brontes, but was not defined as a genre until Bridget Jones (1996). However, several novels predate that definition, but are still considered “Chick lit” these include Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale (1995), Jane Austen’s novels, H. B. Gilmour’s Clueless (1995), the Brontes and so on.[5] These novels were later recategorized into being Chick lit.

The genre was aimed a a large audience of women, originally both of white and non-white backgrounds. However, much of Chick Lit is aimed at a white, young female audience as of 2009. Over time the genre diversified into other experiences women have. Such as Ethnic chick lit, Brit chick lit (also known as Singleton Lit), Lad lit, Workplace tell-all, Bride lit, Mommy lit, Widow lit, Christian chick lit, Mystery chick lit and Hen lit. Ethnic chick lit also has sub genres, such as Indian chick lit, Asian chick lit, Brazilian Chick-Lit and Black chick lit.

William Buell I picked up a Danielle Steele novel, “Miracle,” out of curiousity, and then began to wonder if mostly women read her novels or if she has a male audience. Then I realize I can find out with Google searches. This youtube clip is simply Ms. Steele talking about her latest novel.

She is an amazing woman. I have only read His Bright Light, the story of her son who committed suicide. It took my breath away.

William Buell
I simply mean that I had a mental preconception of what Danielle Steel must be like and what her books and readership might be like, and when I looked into the matter, I found something unexpected, but not unlike what you describe. I am not suggesting that Steel be added to the Great Books program, obviously. I like to try and be open-minded, and take an interest in what many other people take an interest in.

I’m just being a snob šŸ™‚ There’s something to be said for enjoying a fun book. I just don’t have it in me. I think that’s the one bad thing I took away from St. Johns… by comparison, I pronounce judgment on modern books as I’m reading – which definitely impedes enjoyment šŸ™‚ I’m going to try this book – recommended by a fellow St Johnnie … See Morecalled “An Accomplished Woman”. Its written by a Brit (which also plays into my snobbery)… Most of the modern writers that I enjoy have been Brits. I’ll let you know whether, IM not-so HO, it was worth the trouble.

William Buell I have not read current fiction since I was in grade school. But I opened Dean Koontz’ “Tick Tock” in the middle, started to read, and it was a real page turner. Now, I have found a copy of Danielle Steel’s “Miracle.” I am wondering if many males read Danielle Steele and that genre, or if it is a mostly women audience.

William Buell
I am wondering what would happen if you could take all the Koontz novels Steele novels, and process them sentence by sentence through a computer program and tally word frequency counts. Next, for each page, encode from one to three numbers representing something abstract like, fear, envy, rage, jealousy, lust, sadness, death, etc. Would any sort of pattern emerge? How close might someone come to developing a programmatic novel generator?

Nyc Labrets
Only piece of schlock I have in the house is a Koontz book called Dragon Tears, published in 1993.

Have no idea how it ended up in my possession.

Bizarre thing about this bit of vile typing, that is allegedly a ‘book’, is that he attacks the nascent Rave Culture in it, in a big way, long before before Alcohol Free, All Night, Electronic Dance Music Parties got so much as a toe-hold in the USA…. See More

At that time Fox News thought that Raves were a *good thing* as evidenced by this clip from the same year, 1993, that Dragon Tears was published:

Note that they emphasize how alcohol use is kinda frowned on in that environment.
One thing in particular really leaped out for me is how Koonz not only Character Assassinated Rave Culture but he really went after the drug MDMA, other wise known as Ecstasy, which was the Drug of Choice at these gatherings.

In it Koonz devotes an entire passage to a long disproven Drug War Propaganda Myth that MDMA causes holes to form in the human brain.

Here’s the thing.

That particular pernicious Drug Warrior lie didn’t gain any sort of popular currency in American Media until about the year 2000/2002.

So how did a hack like Koontz come to float such a bullshit theory, in print, years and years before Oprah Winfrey got a hold of it?

I’m picking up my first modern fiction book in a long while: An Accomplished Woman by a Brit. It’s supposed to be Jane Austen-esque… hmmm, we’ll see. I expect to be disappointed.

Have you read any of Roald Dahl’s short stories? Because he has a story about a machine that can generate novels kind of like that.

My first thought was Orwell’s observation in 1984 that for the Proles the same 5 stories were recycled over and over again.

They had a machine for writing those kinds of books, it was called the ‘Sidney Sheldon’.

@Tish, if you’re feeling all Jane Austenish be sure to check out former CIA Agent, Stephanie Barrons, Roman a Clefs featuring Miss … See MoreAusten as a Private Eye. I was at a tumultuous a book signing of hers back in February of 2001 and I’m sure we walked away from that one with an interesting impression of each other. In my defense, it was totally random that I happened to be there that night I had no idea who she was or what her job used to be. I’m incredibly grateful that we have dedicated Public Servants like that keeping America safe.


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