From Publishers Weekly
"Chick lit as a genre," writes Merrick in her introduction, "presents one very narrow representation of women's lives." This anthology's 18 stories, on the other hand, present a frequently funny take on women's experiences ranging from the mundane to the riotously absurd. In the first story, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "The Thing Around Your Neck," a young Nigerian immigrant struggles to find her place in America. In Curtis Sittenfeld's "Volunteers Are Shining Stars," a mildly neurotic young volunteer, maddeningly pecked at by her colleagues, is driven to violence. One of the most memorable stories, Jennifer Egan's "Selling the General," puts a disgraced publicist to work for a genocidal dictator to pay for her daughter's private school tuition. Men get some representation too: Cristina Henríquez's "Gabriella My Heart" sees a gay man reflecting on a heterosexual high school crush, while the married biology professor in Binnie Kirshenbaum's "The Matthew Effect" pursues a student. Readers who've been Fendi'd and Choo'd to distraction would do well to pick this up.
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This short story collection examines, in illuminating detail, issues and concerns facing women who won't find solace in a Prada bag. In no way is the editor trying to denounce chick lit. With these thought-provoking stories, she aims for mind expansion instead of mental escapism. In one story a woman experiences trepidation upon her wedding night, flees her husband, and becomes a protectoress of orphans. Another showcases the battles and execution of Joan of Arc through the lens of a reality-TV television crew, complete with makeover. A first date starts off with much promise until the two singletons admit lying to each other over the most banal facts. The most disturbing story is
chick lit but with a perverted twist--a single, anxious woman volunteers at a shelter, observes other couples with both hunger and disdain, and develops a distorted view of a coworker when a child disappears. No less hopeful than typical chick lit but certainly more poignant and serious, this collection should spur spirited conversation among readers willing to discuss comparisons. Kaite MediatoreCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved