From Publishers Weekly
Defending the much-maligned genre, recently dealt a slap with the Elizabeth Merrick-edited collection This is Not Chick Lit, author and former PW reviewer Baratz-Logsted has produced a comeback anthology that asks, "Are women really criticizing each other about what they're reading?" Though they may be, the ensuing conversation is producing grist for hungry authors. This round up of 18 chick lit tales offers plenty of enthusiasm and creativity, but suffers in the inevitable comparison to This is Not. The authors here, including Jennifer Coburn, Gena Showalter, Karin Gillespie, Johanna Edwards and Rachel Pine, have produced undeniably lively, inventive stories that pair expected elements (jerk ex-boyfriends, jealous girlfriends, insecure spinsters, unruly toddlers and demanding mothers) alongside spies, ghosts, futuristic dating databases, third eyes and house-size pumpkins. Authors also get to cheer on their genre in notes that follow each story; "I loved Chick-Lit before Chick Lit was even a genre," gushes Cara Lockwood at the conclusion of "The Commitment Phobe," a story about a relationship in which "either he will marry her, or she will kill him." Unfortunately, the stories are by and large marred with ho-hum dialogue, clichéd characters and unpolished endings, ultimately working to reinforce claims that chick lit trades smarts and craftsmanship for easy laughs and themes that pander to female audiences. Enjoyable and eager, this will please fans who took umbrage at the Merrick gang's salvo, but probably won't win any converts.
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Although chick lit is immensely popular with readers, it is largely ignored by literary critics and maligned by more serious female authors, such as contributors to This Is Not Chick-Lit
, a forthcoming short story collection. Chick-lit authors fight back with this collection of stories by women writers proud to wear the chick-lit label. In her introduction, Baratz-Logsted [see page 46 for her most recent novel] explains that she invited chick-lit authors to prove how varied, insightful, and, yes, entertaining the genre can be. Each author prefaces her story with her own personal defense of chick lit, and the collection ends with a bibliography of titles outside the genre these authors recommend. For the most part, the anthology succeeds at showing the diverse range of authors, characters, and plots that now fall under the chick-lit umbrella, including a surreal tale about a woman who goes in for a simple medical treatment and comes out with a third eye, and a poignant story about a young mother's fantasies after her twins' birth. Chick-lit devotees will appreciate discovering new authors, and the uninitiated will be pleasantly surprised. Aleksandra KostovskiCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved