SHAKING blog

Monday, June 06, 2005

You calling me a slut? I've got some choice words for you, Sittenfeld...

As I read Curtis Sittenfeld's review of Melissa Bank's new novel, THE WONDER SPOT, in this week's NYTBR, steam began pouring out of my "slutty" nostrils and probably some of my other orifices as well... Sittenfeld, or, as I shall hereby refer to her, the Gender Traitor, writes in her opening graph:

To suggest that another woman's ostensibly literary novel is chik lit feels catty, not unlike calling another woman a slut -- doesn't the term basically bring down all of us?
The resounding answer to that, is "No, bitch, it doesn't. But what does is the pretentious musings of an "ostensibly literary writer."

In Sittenfeld's last graph, she says:
Undeniably, there were times when I laughed or winced in recognition as I read; I understood exactly what Sophie meant, and that's when I liked the book best. But this, ultimately, is the reason I know "The Wonder Spot" is chick lit: because its appeal relies so much on how closely readers relate to its protagonist. Good novels allow us to feel what characters feel, no matter how dissimilar their circumstances and ours.
I think that's pretty rich coming from a woman who just wrote a book about the experiences of an "outsider" who attends a prep school who was an "outsider" who attended a prep school.

But I also take issue with the content of the quote. As a lifelong admirer of the work of Philip Roth, I can honestly say that I've never shared the feelings of his protagonists and yet I'm thinking the "literary" Ms. Sittenfeld might think twice before referring to his oeuvre as "Dick Lit."

14 Comments:

Anonymous Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

I share your outrage. In fact, I sent a letter to the NYTBR yesterday, er, expressing myself. Somehow, I don't think they'll run my letter in which I said I used to be in denial about being an author of chick-lit but that I was now embracing my inner chick as opposed to embracing my inner bitch which CS has done with her review. Btw, I'm still working on developing my This Is Chick-Lit idea - I'll keep you informed!

June 07, 2005 2:34 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

I'll be looking for your letter! (I sent one, too, but I fear once they edit out the profanity, there won't be much left to print... just joking, sort of.)

I'm also looking forward to reading more of your great work, Lauren!

June 07, 2005 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

OK, and now I officially love you.

Yesterday, I fired off my own 2000-word essay about the Sittenfeld/Bank snafu. Unfortunately, the blog that was going to run it experienced technical difficulties, so my piece is still in limbo. If I ever get it up somewhere, I'll be sure to send you a link!

June 09, 2005 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Here you go!

http://logsted.blogspot.com/

June 09, 2005 6:41 PM  
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