Thursday, May 26, 2005

Thoughts on Passive Aggressive Chicklit

My main frustration with the last few books I've been reading is a lack of a confrontation when the storyline is crying for one.

Are confrontations difficult for women to write? We are fairly comfortable writing confrontations with lovers. But I've noticed a distinct absence of confrontations with bosses, landlords and ex-lovers in the last round of books I've bought. Is this because we tend to avoid these confrontations in real life?

When I was studying writing in college, we had big dilemmas about writing sex scenes. We were embarrassed to write them, as our peers would read them and form judgments about them. However, the absence of a sex scene where one belongs is just as conspicuous as the sex scene itself.

Confrontations, like sex scenes are blindingly obvious in their absence in fiction. Do we (as in women) avoid writing them because they're not "realistic?" To me, it seems unrealistic that an unreasonable manager leave on their own accord and everything just "works out." Chick lit is an escape. It's fun to read somebody overcoming their doormat tendencies, and standing up for themselves. Getting revenge against an unfair tyrant makes for satisfying reading. An unfair tyrant leaving for another job coincidentally feels like a cop out to me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Hand, Foot in Mouth
That's actually Hand, Foot AND Mouth as in the virus that plagues today's childcare centers. Lately E's been off. He's been crying during and after meals and generally being a Grumpy-Bunny. I got the call today from his school that he'd contracted Hand Foot and Mouth and I needed to pick him and get a doctor's note telling them that he's no longer contagious.

The irksome part of this is that the virus has been making the rounds at his school for a few days, and they didn't tell the parents. If I had known there was something like that going around, I would have been less worried about all of Eric's meal-time fussing Grrrr.. Arrgh.

Still cruising through my books. I just finished The Frog Prince by Jane Porter.

It's the story of Holly, a 25 year old woman who has moved to San Francisco from Fresno after a embarrassingly short marriage to a narcissistic Frenchman named Jean-Marc. Holly is minorly compelling and gets more so as the story goes on. She works on her broken heart and does so without the help of a particular male character. I commend the author for this. "Girl gets her act together sans leading man" is a genre lacking with chicklit in general.

The best parts of the book are the friendships she forges in spit of the fact that she feels worthless and crazy. The worst part of the book is that she never really overcomes her doormat tendencies. I am really frustrated by books that leave out the final confrontation. Have you ever read the Nanny Diaries? This is a perfect example of the crescendo that wasn't. The Frog Prince edges towards confrontations, but ultimately ignores them at the end. She never really confronts her ex-husband, her boss or her psychotic landlord, and these relationships are ripe for drama. But the drama is steadfastly avoided.

It's a decent read. The first half of the book the main character is completely immersed in her own depression and it's a bit like being bludgeoned with somebody's grief. It's definitely not my favorite book in the genre, but it's not the worst.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Communication! Without it, your book is frustrating.

Just finished Having It & Eating It by Sabine Durant. It's about Maggie Owen a downtrodden housewife with two small boys. Her husband is in the middle of a hellish summer at the advertising agency where he works, and she deduces that he's having an affair with a friend of hers from grammar school.

So, rather than confront him with the knowledge that she's caught him in a lie, she festers and eventually embarks on an affair of her own. The distance between them grows and their relationship falters.

The book doesn't have a lot of truth to it. Sure, people in long term committed relationships have trouble communicating, but this book takes it to an extreme. The heroine, is either an idiot, crazy or very selfish. When you have small children depending on you and your partner (they're not married) you owe it to them to at least have a discussion. Anyhow, can't say more in case somebody wants to actually read the book. Communication, even angry communication is much more interesting to read about than 325 pages of two people not having a discussion about the ten foot pink spotted elephant in the family room.

This is definitely one for the Salvation Army. I don't think I could stomach reading it again.