It seems Slate has asked their writers to take a month off from their normal duties to pursue “an ambitious, long-form journalism” project. Very talented writer Dahlia Lithwick has made her project a chick-lit novel. She says that writing a novel-and posting it chapter by chapter-was the hardest writing project she could think of, and that she chose chick-lit because she enjoys it, and she’s’ interested in discovering why the genre is so looked-down-upon, and why so many find it so satisfying.
After much thought, I decided that the best genre for me to attempt is post-Bridget Jones, oops-there’s-my-underwear-on-the-outside-again chick lit—because I’m a sucker for it and also because it seems slightly more doable than vampire erotica, about which I could not hope to become an expert in a matter of weeks. (For years, the joke around my house has been that there are two stacks of books on my side of the bed: One pile is about torture, Guantanamo, and military tribunals. The other is bright pink.) I am fully aware of the raging battles between those who take pink books seriously and those who do not. This project seeks to sidestep that entire literary debate by being fun for its own sake.
One of the things I want to probe in this month of writing is the question of why we see chick lit as an escape. What is it about women who are overscheduled, underappreciated, and who at some point become invariably compromised by an undergarment, that appeals to us? What does it signify, if anything, that men prefer to read about protagonists who slit terrorist throats from the deck of a yacht anchored off the Maldives while sipping a Makers Mark out of the navel of a pole dancer?