Thursday, February 5, 2009

Response to Lori Jakiela's Chatham Reading

I'd never heard of the term “Chick Lit” before last term and I must say, I find it a tiny bit irritating. Lori Jakiela told us during her reading last night that her book, “Miss New York has Everything,” is marketed as such. Maybe I don’t get it. I’m a chick, though, given I’m a lesbian it's possible that I have less then usual chick-i-ness, but I enjoyed her book, and her readings. I like how she takes us on a ride through her life throwing in punch lines here and there.

She also told us that her editors have pegged her as a humor writer. I can understand why. She’s good at it; I’d say she was a natural if I hadn’t heard from her own lips that she wasn’t, that she grew up quite serious and had to teach herself humor. Even her self-described “dark” reading, one about realizing her birth mother was a paranoid schizophrenic, even that was humorous. She described that her birth mother would pepper LJ’s in-box with provocative comments, then scream, “DO NOT RESPOND” and change her profile.

I guess when she says dark she means deep - the tough side of life, the real side. I think the more she delves into that side, the richer her work will be. Sure, Dave Barry is funny, but rich? Rarely. Do we have a nickname for his type of writing?



  1. I agree, Janice. I feel like her humor is what makes her writing unique/her own, but it was the "deep"/dark material that I was left thinking about as I walked out of the reading. I think humor, if you know how to do it, can make the deeper stuff even more powerful-because it's hiding behind humor.

  2. I think you're right. I think she meant "deep" rather than "dark."

    I think that in saying she's annoyed that it's been marketed as "chick lit." she means that it's been marketed as akin to Sex & the City, beach reading, when it's not nearly as silly or formulaic as that. ("Chick lit" is like a "chick flick" but in book form).

  3. "Chick lit" also means that the target (read: only) audience for the book is single 20-30 something women.

  4. The fact is that the majority of readers are women (something like 70%) so I would guess most publishers have to take that into consideration when deciding to publish a book. Ever heard of a man's book reading group? Where's the male equivalent of Oprah's book club? Not to say men don't read, but women really do dominate this audience.

    I liked Lori's darker, more reflective pieces. I really loved her new work--it was funny and witty and made me leave thinking more deeply about the subject.


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