So why were the stories in this book collected under this title? After a certain amount of dancing around the issue (“What’s wrong with a little light fluffy reading?”), Merrick makes this point in her introduction:
Chick lit’s formula numbs our senses. Literature, by contrast, grants us access to countless new cultures, places, and inner lives. Where chick lit reduces the complexity of the human experience, literature increases our awareness of other perspectives and paths. …Chick lit shuts down our consciousness. Literature expands our imaginations.
I just have to agree with her. Merrick also makes the point that the stacks of pink covers on the tables at Borders are in danger of obscuring the real literary works of women writing today. In response to this, Merrick has collected the stories in this book as examples of the kinds of groundbreaking literature that women are writing right now.
I found these stories to be uniformly high quality. Some were more interesting to me than others, but all were original, unexpected, highly creative, and extremely well written. Authors range from older, established writers such as Mary Gordon and Francine Prose, to younger writers like Curtis Sittenfeld.
For me, the book will serve as a guide for selecting the next batch of authors that I want to read. The first author on my new list is Judy Budnitz, whose story Joan, Jeanne, La Pucelle, Maid of Orleans, is just brilliant, and certainly one of the best things I’ve read all year. I just love it when my reaction to a book or a short story is one of awe and amazement that anyone could be so creative and skillful to think up the plot and spin out the tale with such subtlety and imagination. Several of the stories in this collection generated this response from me, but Budnitz’s story was the highlight.
You can read more about this book here; this is just one article out of many. To find more, search for "Merrick chick lit" in Google.
(Book 44, 2006)